Land of the Dragons

Author: Kyle Bernard <csktech[at]>

Date 21 April 2004

Category: Crossover

Rating: PG-13

Keywords: None

Legalese: All characters with their respective rights, properties, and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers, and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

Summery, Old debts come due and old places are calling.

Latest addition


London England,
The British museum, Ancient documents section

The small creature crept thought the bowels of the basement. In the darkness its sharpened claws made a screeching noise as the scraped against the marble floors. The basement was lit by a single bulb, casting shadows across the room. The lack of light made no difference to the creature; its natural element was the darkened caves of Toril.

The scent of magic filled its sensitive nose, leaving the outsider overflowing with lust for power, a lust that was tempered with fear. Its master would be furious if it came back with anything other than what it was sent for. The master made it perfectly clear. He made Mole watch as he'd tortured the small dragon, a torture that'd gone on for years to extract the information. It didn't matter to the master, he was a patient man. Finally, craving death, the dragon had given in and told the master the story of the migration.

The Dungeons of Narwhal
700 years previously

The screams of the small dragon echoed off the stone walls as the tip of a poker, heated to a cherry red point, was jammed against the joint of his wing. Normally protected by the thick armor, every piece of armor had been stripped away from his body and had been kept from rejuvenating by lack of food and some magical enchantment, leaving the small dragon helpless. It couldn't fight back and its ability to sever its soul from it body was taken away from it. The creature of the sky had its wings had been bolted to the walls of the dungeon and it was kept muzzled when the Master wasn't present.

The darkly clad mage entered the room. "And now my little friend the time has come for you to give me what I want." Dressed in black the mage presented an air of evil, the dragon could smell the stench of it on the man.

The small dragon raised its head, the normally bright glow from it eyes was missing and it answered in a whisper, "No," It managed to croak out. "The secrets of the dragons belong to the dragons, no one else."

"That may be true, but you belong to me." The mage sauntered forward in a manner that only the truly confident can manage. "You see over the years I've managed to gather pieces of the legends of the dragons. I know they are not native to this world. Indeed. I can tell you that they came to Toril many eons ago." The mage stopped in front of the dragon. "The only thing I don't know is how they managed it to bring the entire race with them through the portal. I can send small things through the portal. It is only a matter of time before I succeed."

"Then you need nothing from me. I would rather die than betray my people."

"I'm afraid my plans for you and a little more painful than death." The mage lifted the satchel he'd been carrying. "These are larval Nordons." The dragon's eyes went wide. "I see you've heard of them. You race has managed to kill off all of the adults, but I've managed to save a few of the children.

"The Nordons breed in living flesh and the flesh they covet the most is dragon flesh. They burrow into the soft underbelly and gestate there. Unfortunately the dragon in question goes quite mad long before the birth. Think of the honor, you would be the parent of an entire race. Too bad you won't be around to watch them infect your entire people. Tell me what I want to know and I will let you die intact, refuse and you leave me no other option."

Fear and defeat equally filled the small dragon's eyes, "very well."

"At The time of the migration the world was on the knife's edge of war, the dragons and the elves against the humans. The humans had grown beyond their own boarders. Many refused to leave the planet and couldn't see why they couldn't just take the lands held by the dragons and the elves. Small settlements had already encroached on the ancestral lands and more were coming every day. The council of the dragons met with the intention of going to war, a war that we could not have won."

"During that meeting, the bearer of Excalibur and the leader of the Dragons made a pact. A pact that put the entire resources of the Kine behind finding an answer that would allow all the species to live in peace."

"Unfortunately during that time minor skirmishes broke out in the disputed lands. Dragons and Humans alike were killed, raising tensions to the point where all out war was merely a step away. That's when the answer was found, an answer that came from the time before Atlantis. The seven scrolls of Anschlock."

"The scrolls allowed the natural portals between earth and this planet to be opened and stabilized for long periods of time. The Kine bearer of Excalibur came forth to the council and with the backing of the Kine and the royalty of Atlantis the races were moved onto this world. This is how the story is told in the home caves of the dragons, I can tell you no more." The defeat fully claimed the dragon, he'd given the mage what he wanted and betrayed his own race. "Now keep your word, Kill me."

The small dragon hoped that the fragment of the legend would satisfy the mage. He waited, hoping that his death would at least secure some of the secrets that had been passed down from his sire.

"Thank you," the mage said in a sarcastic voice as he prepared the fireball that would dispatch the dragon to whatever afterlife he believed in. "You've given me enough to begin the search.

Rome, 1778

Mole's ancestor crept through the records of the Vatican. The master had found a way to send an emissary across the dimensions for short amounts of time. Since the death of the dragon had exposed, the secrets of the scrolls, the mage had sent seekers into the old world as often as he could gather the energy. Even the small portals, ones just large enough to let the small creatures pass would stretch the mage's power.

The small creatures had been tracking the seven scrolls for generations. Each picking up where the last had ended. Now he had but to grab the box and wait till the portal pulled him back to Toril.

The creature watched the priests as they removed the old scrolls from a wooden box, when a man walked into the room, all of the priests bowed down. The small creature saw his chance and darted across the room, no longer fearing discovery. The man who walked in saw the demonic creature and raised the holy cross into the air and began praying in Latin.

Only feet from his target, the creature saw the portal open. He knew if he came back with out the scrolls his life would be forfeit, but the power the Pope was emanating was too much for the demon and he was swept up in the portal before he could reach his goal.

Chapter 1

London England
Present day

Shelf after shelf, isle after isle, he crept silently, knowing that the slightest noise would bring the humans. Mole scanned the shelves with its huge eyes. The master had known what he wanted and had painfully explained it to the little creature. <There,> Mole thought in his dog sized brain. <There is the wooden box that master wants.>


Stonehenge's AI Niume was running a systems check when the ley-line sensors screamed a warning all along the board. She quickly crosschecked the location and found that the magical power was flowing out from the center of London. The configuration of the disturbance was one that she hadn't seen before. In fact, the signal wasn't even in her memory banks. She quickly made a connection to Merlin at Avalon. "Merlin I think we have a problem, have you seen this type of signal before?"

Avalon's AI not only knew the signal, he knew it all too well and had hoped that he'd never seen it again. The last time he'd recorded a portal from Toril opening was stored in the section of his memory that been shielded from temporal effects. He'd kept that a secret even from the commander. The humans of this world had enough problems to deal with. But hoping something wouldn't happen didn't make it go away. "Please monitor the signal and report back to me when it closes. I'll notify the Commander and alert General Grey."

Sunnydale, California

Rupert Giles had just managed to fall asleep and was deep in the dreaming with Daa'naal. Since returning to Sunnydale he'd spent every sleeping hour working on the skills that the master mage could teach. True the powers were different, but essentially the same, it was a matter of accessing then. Both Giles and Daa'naal knew that the Dark Elf was out there. So far they had found no trace of the elf that would cause the destruction of the earth.

In the dreaming Giles and Daa'naal were in the home forests of the master mage. Tonight they were working on defensive spells. "Trust your instincts Giles," Daa'naal instructed. "You can't try and anticipate every spell, let your body sense the building energy, that will give you the edge you need."

Giles's reply was cut off by a flickering of the sun. For a second the dreaming went completely dark. The darkness was accompanied by a shrill whistle that hung in the air like a fog. A form shimmered in front of the duo. Elanthielle's body formed. "Giles you are needed immediately." She flashed out of the dreaming as quickly as she had entered.

Giles eyes fluttered open and he reached for the beeping fold comm. "Yes?" He said with more energy that he should have felt. The dreaming was a nice place to get some rest but didn't replace some real sleep.

"Good evening Mr. Giles, I'm afraid we have a problem that needs your and the Master Mage's attention. A portal from Toril has been opened in central London."

That got Giles's attention. "What!" he exclaimed in an excited voice, fully expecting to hear that hoards of vampires and other less worldly creatures were now flooding his homeland. "How bad is it," he asked. He tossed the fold comm on the bed and headed to the closet.

"Niume is monitoring the situation. So far there are no reports of anomalous activities in the city. I've placed Avalon on alert and have notified the Commander and the European teams. The Commander is currently assessing the situation."

"Excuse me Merlin," A feminine voice broke in. Giles recognized the voice as that of Niume. "The portal has been closed. There are now reports of a fire at the British Museum."

Half dressed, Giles sat back down on the bed. "Well it seems as if someone had beaten us to the punch." The ex-watcher turned mage hung his head, "I'll call Alex and see if he can give me some idea of what has happened. Please keep me informed if anything else happens."

"Of course," Merlin replied, "and if Professor O'Connell has any answers please give the Commander a call, He is worried about this."

Giles picked up the phone and dialed Alex O'Connell's number. C'mon now answer the bloody phone", Giles swore as is uncle's cell phone rang and rang.

London England

Alex O'Connell was hip deep in trouble. Between the firefighters and the members of the board of directors he had a thousand different questions being tossed at him all at once. Thankfully the fire had proved to be a small one that was easily extinguished, however what Alex had just discovered missing would take more than time to fix. If what Alex suspected was correct, it could very well cost every human on the face of the earth their very lives.

Staring at the inventory sheet for the room that had caught fire, Alex noticed one item that shouldn't have been missing since the fire was on the other side of the room. There was a blank spot on the shelves where the inventory sheet said a wooden box, dating from the 2nd centaury, containing seven scrolls of unknown origins lay missing. It was the little addendum at the bottom of the description that sent shivers of fear up the old man's spine. The note described the seven sigils that were embedded on each of the scrolls. If Alex was right, the Seven Scrolls of Anschlock had been found and lost in the very same day. "I'd better call Giles. He's going to want to know about this as soon as possible."

Alex ran up the stairs and into the office that his nephew once occupied only to find his cell phone ringing off the hook. "Hello," he answered quickly. "I'm afraid I'll have to call you back I have a rather important call to make."

Sunnydale, California

"Wait Uncle Alex," but it was too late. Giles glared at the phone, but as soon as he set it back down it rang on its own.

"Hello," Giles said speaking as if the world had just caught fire.

"Rupert its Alex, I'm afraid we have a problem. The Seven Scrolls if Anschlock have been stolen."

Daa'naal made the connection between the two events before anyone else. His reaction summed everything nicely, <Holy shit.>

Chapter 2

Xander's Mansion
Three hours later

Giles lectured the gathered Kine. "The Seven Scrolls of Anschlock were last known to be in the possession of the Vatican. They are thought to be of a pre-civilization origin, but no one had confirmed that. Though If fact there have been no modern studies on the scrolls at all. Daa'naal has confirmed that the scrolls are also a legend on his home world as well.

"Wait a second there Geeves," Faith interrupted. "How can that be?"

Xander reached over and grasped Faith on the arm gently, "Let him speak." Xander had been briefed privately by both Giles and Merlin before the local arm of the Kine had gathered. He nodded to Giles to continue.

"It can be Faith because; Dragons and Elves at one point in our history once shared the Earth with humans. A war between the species threatened and the elves and dragons left. Now if I may continue?"

Faith nodded in reply.

"As I was saying, Daa'naal has confirmed that the scrolls existed in legend on his home planet. In the legend the scrolls are supposedly the gateway to a world of great power and entire cultures have searched for the scrolls, obviously they were never found, that is until today. This evening Niume detected an interdimensional portal opening in the center of London." Giles paused so the group could take in that little fact. "In fact," he added, "near my old stomping grounds, the British museum."

"Does anyone know if the scrolls were there?"

"An excellent question Tara, the answer is no. But given the description of what was missing I think it likely that the box did in fact contain the scrolls. Moreover, I don't think we can risk of not knowing. If the scrolls do indeed open a doorway between Toril and Earth, I see no other option other than to assume that they are now in the possession of someone we'd rather not have them."

"What are the risks," Xander injected.

Giles stroked his chin as he thought on his answer, "There are 'things' on Toril that make the Goa'uld look like butterflies. You have to understand, our world is fairly benign where it comes to magic. Here it takes some natural talent, much like Tara possess, and long years of study to become adept at magic and even then: the three fold rule maintains a system of checks and balances. On Toril the magic is much wilder and unpredictable. There are beings that are born with powers that would terrify the average human being to death. Singularly we have perhaps three Mages of equivalent power, Myself, Jacks and perhaps Robert."

"Wait a damn second, Faith tossed into the mix. "I can see your point but would the magic or Toril be effective here? I can't see a huge army of Wizards crossing over and blasting us to bits. There has to be some other plan on their part."

Giles smiled, Faith wasn't as stupid as the façade she put up. "Actually Faith you're correct. It would take them time to learn to control magic once they have crossed over. However the demons and monsters they will bring with them will buy them that time. This world has creatures like Giants and shape shifters, Vampires that live off the souls of people. And other things that I cant even describe. Remember the problems we had with the Dark Elf multiply that by thousands and then double that. This is a threat we have to take seriously." Xander knew what Giles was thinking; he stood up and took over from Giles. "Ok we know the threat, the question is; can we do anything about it?" Merlin, does Avalon store any capability for jumping across dimensions?"

The AI appeared on the big screen monitor. "I'm sorry Commander, currently no! The Stargate could be modified too the task but that would require many months or even years of experimentation. My records show the events of the past, but fail to explain how they were accomplished."

"Damn it," Xander cursed. "Merlin I want the European teams to stay on alert. I know they have problems of their own but keep them ready anyway. I would also like to talk to General Grey right after we finish this conference. We are going to need a more mobile combat force on standby."

"Excuse me Xander," Giles interrupted, "Merlin… do you have an image of the scrolls?"

An Image of seven scrolls appeared on a split screen. "Only the exterior I'm afraid." The screen showed the scrolls lying on a table being studied by Atlantean mages. "Notice the seven sigils on each of the scrolls. Each had the same characters but it a different order."

Giles stepped closer to the monitor. "A numbering system I suspect. Good, that buys us some time. Giles began pacing back and forth, wearing a path into the expensive carpet, the look on his face became the blank stare he always got when studying a problem.

Xander was all too familiar with Giles; this could go on for hours. "Ok gang, let's call it a night. We will let Giles work out the magical aspects.

<You know what we have to do,"> Daa'naal whispered into Giles's mind

< Of course I do,> Giles conceded, <that doesn't mean we can't explore other options first.>

<Explore away but the answers you seek aren't here and the threat will continue. Look Rupert, Anyone on my plane with enough power to send something across a dimension to retrieve the scrolls has to have enormous power. It won't take them long to figure out what combination of scrolls in what order too figure out how to open the portal, days in the worst case, weeks in the best. We have to take action before that.>

<A part of me agrees with you Daa'naal, it wants to jump right in and kick this bastard in the ass as hard as I can. But the other part knows that we are a team. Not just you and I, but the entire Kine. I have to give Xander and the rest a chance to come up with another solution.> "Perhaps Alex and the encyclopedia," Giles said out loud.

Did you say something Giles?

Giles turned his head and found Xander sitting in the chair next to him. "I'm sorry Xander when did you get here?"

Xander looked over the Ex watcher carefully, using all of his abilities. The Blue green glow that Giles normally emitted was muted way down. That concerned Xander. "I've been sitting here the whole time G-man. Are you alright?"

"I'm fine Xander, just lost in a thought." Giles considered carefully what he would tell Xander but there was no way Xander would authorize a risky flight to England without knowing why. "Xander do you remember my encounter with Detective Stone and the dagger?"

Xander could sense the tension in his friend, "Well I can't say I've thought about it much. Other things kept popping up. Is it somehow connected to all of this?"

"Directly no, I don't believe so, but there was something that I failed to report. Now I ask you to believe me that it wasn't deliberately meant to hurt anyone, I was just keeping a secret that was entrusted to me, but now I think it can help."

Xander's eyes stared at Giles wordlessly ordering him to explain.

"In researching the missing items from the museum I discovered that My Uncle Alex had an encyclopedia of mystical items. Rather large volumes as I remember. Xander what I would like to do is have Alex picked up and bring those books here."

That idea didn't sit too well with the Commander of the Kine. "I don't know Giles, Exposing us that way could be dangerous."

"Oh please, you've been recruiting people like there's no tomorrow. One or two more in the loop so to speak won't hurt us." Giles thought quickly when he saw the frown on Xander's face. "Its not as if Alex and his mother would be dead wood. They have nearly as much experience in the paranormal as you and I do, Think of an older, less flighty, Daniel Jackson. Both are highly experienced and knowledgeable archeologists, Xander…" He implored,"You have to trust me on this one." That speech gave Giles an idea.

"Alright, Xander agreed. "Merlin detach one of the Orcas and detail it to Giles for a special mission, I'll clear it and the pilot with General Grey."


"What the hell is he doing to my schedule," General Grey shouted. He'd taken the order in a manner befitting an experienced staff officer but inwardly Gray was upset. The only one around that he could complain to was Merlin.

"General Grey, the commander generally has a good reason for whatever he does, I'm sure this is no exception.

"That doesn't make it any easier to break someone free." Who's nearby that we can callback?"

"The majority of personnel are committed to ongoing operations. Captain Griffin is enroute back from Hawaii. His ETA is one hour and twenty seven minutes."

Grey dug through the daily printout of flight ops, "What's his cargo, anything we can live without for 48 hours?"

"I believe he is deadheading back after dropping personnel off for leave."

"Ok let's not waste any time. Let's divert him to England now. Authorize him crew rest onboard. I assume you can fly the bird for a few hours?" Grey didn't wait for a reply, "Ok get me Griffin and let's get this clusterfuck started." The general's language betrayed his Marine background.

Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain

Daniel Jackson had just returned from a mission to find a package had been delivered to his home. The package was about the size of a shoebox and when he tore the wrapping off he found that just what it was, but the box didn't contain a pair of shoes. Instead there was a photograph of some scrolls accompanied by a cell phone with only a single button. There was a note stuck to the bottom of the box.

Dear Dr. Jackson

We find ourselves in need of your specialized talents. Enclosed you will find a photograph. We would appreciate it if you could attempt to translate the symbols on the scrolls. If you have any success please notify us at once.


Rupert Giles

Sunnydale California
Twenty four hours later

It was a slightly smaller group that gathered in the mansions control room. Xander and Giles sat at the control panels with Alex and his mother Evie, Jacks and Vin, and Faith all sat around the room waiting to see what else they could do about the missing scrolls.

"Ok now that everyone knows everyone else; let's get this started, Dr. O'Connell, anything new to report?" Evie and Alex both spoke up, "Yes." The looked at each other and laughed, it wasn't the first time that had happened.

Alex took the lead. "As you already know the Scrolls were stored in the museum in a seldom visited basement. The scrolls were believed to be in the custody or the Catholic Church up until around world war two. As most of you know the church has a very limited world view. Anything outside that tends to get destroyed or hidden away. In this case they reported the scrolls were destroyed by the Fascists. How the museum got them," Alex shrugged, "I suspect some Tommy brought them back in his kit as booty and later donated them."

Giles tried to be gentle, "Uncle Alex that's all well and good but it doesn't help us much."

"Right you are. It's the teacher in me. Well here is the bad news; the scrolls are reportedly a way to jump dimensions." The old teacher hauled a huge book out of a satchel he'd been carrying since they'd been picked up in London. "Now according to the myth the gate way can be opened by incantations from the scrolls."

"We'd already surmised that."

"Well here's something you didn't know…. The destination is determined by the sequence in which the scrolls are read."

Xander gasped silently, "Giles can I speak with you for a moment… in private please."

"Hey," faith complained, missing the obvious, "what's all the hubbub about?"

"Faith give us a minute and we will explain." With that both Xander and Giles left the room.

The pair walked into the kitchen. Xander turned to Giles. "OK enough of the bullshit. Those scrolls have to be recovered at any cost, any cost. Do you realize how much damage those things could cause? Just the thought of a mystical equivalent of a Stargate out there scares the shit out of me and now we have one that can jump dimensions."

"But how do we get to it?" Giles was hoping that Xander didn't remember. He was hoping that sending the picture to Daniel would present other options.

Xander did. "Don't BS me Giles; you still have the crystal Mystra gave you from the previous timeline. The time has come to use it. And Giles," he added, "don't bring the damn things back. What ever the cost destroy them."

"But Xander," Giles protested.

Xander changed instantly from Giles's friend to the Commander of the Kine, "You have your orders Knight Mage."

Chapter 3

Unused to being ordered about, Giles was confused with the tone Xander took. In the past they had always reached a consensus on a course of action. Giles had always conceded leadership to Xander where it was clear that Xander was operating in his own element, but magic and research had always been Giles bailiwick and he'd come to expect Xander to defer to him in those matters. It took Giles a few minutes to accept what Xander was saying.

"Xander I don't think you understand. Think of the resources this would open up. If we can just retrieve the scrolls and translate them it could, in theory, gives us a second path of escape if the worst happened and the Goa'uld did manage to take this planet." He was desperately trying to convince Xander that while the scrolls were dangerous they could prove very useful.

Xander listened patiently, letting the older man vent his views. Xander believed that as a commander he should at least let the options be presented, and opinion that Elan agreed with, but privately she was torn. She knew the power of the scrolls, but she also knew how easily they could be abused.

"Giles…" Xander started to say then held back, He rested a hand on the older man's shoulder "Rupert, I understand what you're trying to say, I really do, but the fact remains, that even if we held these scrolls, the temptation is simply too great, even with the best of intentions. Xander shuddered, "You and I know both know how thin the boundary is. What if we chose the wrong combinations of symbols and the doorway to hell opened and Earth became reinfested?"

The Watcher was aghast at his own shortsightedness, "I hadn't really considered that," He confessed. He still had Daa'naal's memories of the past timeline when the Hellmouth had opened and everyone and everything he loved had been destroyed. He also knew that some of the things that could come through a gate between Earth and Toril could be even worse that the lower demons that had come thorough then, "perhaps you're right."

"You'll have to trust me on this one G-man. Start thinking about what you want to take with you, anything in the armory is yours for the asking. All right, that's settled, now we have to explain your absence."

"I would suggest letting Faith and Jacks in on the secret," Giles said. "Should something go wrong, that should give you some other options."

Xander's lips pursed in thought. He was well aware that Jacks was perhaps the only magic user that could possible rescue Giles if something went wrong, and even then the cost to the fey would be incalculable "If I tell Jacks, she will tell Vin and Dawn. I'd rather that not happen just yet."

"I think you underestimate Dawn and I'd ask that you consider this, with Dawn being the Key it might be better for all concerned if she were kept more in the loop. Our little Dawnie is much more mature than any of us gives her credit for, as much as we'd like to keep her safe, I fear that keeping her in the dark is no longer an option."

Xander shuddered at the thought of Dawn facing the horrors he had faced, "Jesus Giles, she's just a kid."

Physically yes, mentally she's the same age you and Buffy were when you started fighting the darkness. At the very least; start training her in the martial arts. We already know she will take to that well."

Xander could barely contain the shudder that ran up and down his back, "Giles that's another discussion for another time, hopefully a long time ways, let's concentrate on the problem at hand. Do you have any idea what you'd like to take with you?"

Xander's question started Giles thinking, making mental list of what might be handy. "My pistols of course, and if you don't mind I'd like one of the P-90's as well."

"What about a zat or one of the captured staff weapons?"

<Giles> Daa'naal whispered into Giles's mind. <NO, the guns I can see, if those are taken from you they will run out of ammunition eventually, we can't risk an energy weapon falling into the hands of anyone on Toril.>

<But it would give us a decided advantage.> Giles wasn't ready to concede the point just yet.

<It could also alter the balance of power on a world where force equals power and it would be abused.> Daa'naal could easily picture the outcome if a staff weapon fell into the hands of the Drow; the elven people sold into slavery. Their forests burned to the ground. Humans that had become nothing more than a play toy for the one that controlled that kind of power. < it would be best if you took nothing. Depend on the skills you already have.>

The vehemence of Daa'naal's tone nearly convinced Giles that he should listen, but common sense also told him that he would need very advantage he could get. That left him with a problem, the only one that had ever been to Toril was telling him that it was too dangerous and on the other hand he had been given a mission that he could not fail at. The Ripper in Giles wanted to take everything he could lay his hands on, but the half of his soul agreed with the elven mage. Giles made the decision and though he didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be very important later on.

Giles was dressing himself in one of the many rooms that were reserved for guests. He'd decided to forgo any of the armor that Xander had in the house in favor of a sturdy pair of blue jeans and a thick cotton shirt that Daa'naal assured him would not draw any attention. He'd also chosen one of the combat vests that Xander had acquired from Terry. The vest was festooned with pouches where Giles could hide the spare magazines for the Detonics and the P-90. He was just donning the brown duster when a knock came from the door.

"Hey Giles," she said as she wandered into the room. "Xander filled me in on your little trip and I wanted to say…" her voice trailed off and her head dropped to the ground. "well…" she mumbled.

"Faith it's all right…"

"No its not… I told B I would watch your back, but this…" Faith shrugged.

"Is just another mission, one I'm afraid I have to complete on my own," Giles gathered the smallest slayer in his arms. She felt so small to the watcher, "Have faith… Faith." There was no denying it, Giles felt a sense of responsibility for the Slayer, though neither of them would admit it to the other. The constant back and forth bickering was the only way they had found to express the connection that had formed during the final battle with the Dark Elf.

The young girl pulled back from Giles, the moment of vulnerability over. "Cute G… but look, since I can't go with you maybe this will help." Faith pulled out the only thing that had come through with her during the time switch, a wicked looking knife. "Here," she stuck the large knife in Giles's hand, "and you better bring it back in one piece." She turned to walk away.

"Faith, do me a favor; give Xander a little peace while I'm gone."

The Slayer flipper her hair out of the way and smiled at the mage, "Not a chance Jeeves," she said as she walked away.

"Well," Giles said to the empty room, "Nice to see that some things never change."

Giles stood alone in the forest that surrounded the estate. He'd said his goodbyes to the rest of the people that he considered closer than family. He checked his watch and noticed that he'd cut the midnight deadline very close.

//What now?// He asked his constant companion.

//Hold the crystal in your hand and begin to recite the spell.//

Giles took the crystal in his hand and began to speak in what seemed to him a mumble. One part of him, the human part thought the word were pure nonsense ,while the other half, the elven half nodded in approval at the language he hadn't heard spoken if a different voice in nearly a hundred years, Giles recited the spell in high elvish.

The crystal pulsed, the energy warmed Giles's hand accompanied by a blue glow. With each spoken word the crystal brilliance increased and the heat nearly burned the mage's hand. He involuntary opened his hand and the blue pulse leapt out of his hand and began darting around the forest. Giles continued the spell at Daa'naal's insistence.

The blue spark, now the size of a firefly darted back towards Giles diving thought the man's body as if it weren't there. A shock of energy leapt from Giles's body doubling the size of the blue spark. Giles gasped. //Ignore the pain Rupert, concentrate on the words.//

Round after round Giles repeated the litany of the spell. Each time he completed it the blue glow would dart through his body, doubling its size at every pass. The pain was nearly too great for the watcher to handle, He groaned his was through the magical words one last time, vowing to quit the summoning if it didn't work this time. "Daa'naaaaaaaaaa…."

Giles voice went silent as the blue glow enveloped his body and all of his senses were overloaded. Giles, mercifully felt nothing, he was beyond that.

The pair, Giles and Daa'naal, woke up in a room that glowed of magic. Daa'naal was the first to rise to his feet and he offered Giles his hand. Surprisingly when Giles took it he felt the warmth of a living body.

Giles spun around slowly, appraising the situation. He nearly fell in shock when he noticed what looked like a map, but there was nothing in common with a map other than a general feel. Hanging in the air above their heads were interconnected lighted pathways and between the pathways were blotches of light, equally balance with blackened dark spots.

"Welcome Daa'naal of Toril and Giles of Earth. I've been expecting the both of you," The Speaker, a woman that both of the travelers knew, Lady Mystra, the Goddess of Magic.

Daa'naal fell to his knees and pulled the reluctant Giles down with him. "Don't say a word Giles, let me handle this. "Lady Mystra, he spoke in reverent tones. "we are honored."

"Don't give me that crap Daa'naal," the voice of the goddess sounded very annoyed. "And get up; I hate it when people grovel." The goddess lifted her hand and the pair rose to their feet. "Now" she started, "lets get down to business."

"Giles of earth, last we met I told you that you had a decision to make, Have you chosen to fall into the darkness or will you rise to the light?"

"I've chosen the light," Giles answered nervously.

"Then why do you let your other half control your actions?" Mystra took Giles's jaw in her hands, I can see it in your eyes, and the temptation is still there. That wont do, no that wont do at all."

"Lady Mystra, we have a reason for being here."

"I know of this Daa'naal. He who is above us all has sent a messenger carrying his voice, but she hadn't foreseen that this human would still be on the cusp," Mystra shook her head in annoyance. "This changes things."

"Lady," Daa'naal pleaded, "We much continue on to Toril there is a threat to all of the known worlds that must be dealt with."

The Goddess's head swiveled, "Don't presume to lecture me Daa'naal. The scrolls you seek are much more important than even you know. Her eyes returned to Giles, "Your Young Commander is wiser than even he knows, Finding the scroll in simply the first step, when you have done that they must be destroyed in a fire that burns hotter than a sun. You must take the scrolls to Vulcan's Forge and convince the blacksmith of the gods that he must serve again."

"Again?" Daa'naal questioned.

"Who do you think it was that forged your blade master mage?" Now go, find the scrolls of the ancients and destroy them." Mystra waved her arm in an off hand manner and the pair disappeared.

The long lost sounds of the forest woke Daa'naal. Just from the smell he could tell that he was close to home. It was then that he noticed the he was alone. He cupped his hands and yelled, "Giles."

< Yes Daa'naal> a voice from inside his head answered.

Chapter 4

Stargate Command
Cheyenne Mountain Colorado

Captain Samantha Carter, second in command of SG-1, wandered through the halls of the Stargate Command looking for her team mate Daniel Jackson. "Excuse me," she asked one of the security troops, "Have you see Dr. Jackson around?"

"No ma'am" the airman answered. "Last I saw he was heading towards his lab carrying a microscope, but that was more than two hours ago."

<Well that explains the missing equipment >Sam thought, as she gave the airman a wordless thank you with a flash of her pearly white teeth and set off towards the cubby hole that Daniel had appropriated as a research lab.'

Sam wasn't surprised at all when she found Daniel In his darkened lab, surrounded by ancient texts hovering over the borrowed microscope. "You know you could have asked," she said as a way of greeting the sometimes overly devoted scientist.

Intensely emerged in the images that the photograph presented, Daniel seemed to ignore his pretty blonde team mate. "Daniel" she said impatiently.

"Just a second" he muttered in a gruff voice. Daniel raised his head and laying his glasses on the desk he rubbed his tired eyes. "Sorry Sam, but this thing has me baffled."

"So baffled that you had to steal my microscope?"

Daniel at least had the good grace to look chastened and sound contrite, "Yea, sorry about that."

Never one to let a mystery, any mystery lay unsolved, Sam asked, "What's so important?

"Look for yourself," Daniel scooted the barstool back and made room for Sam to work. After spending hours looking at the runes and searching every text he had available, he was still in the dark and that was pissing him off. He had a feeling that he should know what the symbols meant but the answer had eluded him so far.

Sam bent down and squinted through the eyepieces of the scope. "Hmm," she murmured. "They look like gate codes."

"That's what I thought too. But none of them symbols match any on our gate."

"No you're right on that, but some of them are very close. Look here," Sam tried to move but she jostled the scope and lost the image she was concentrating on. "Damn it; let's move over to the main lab, the scanning microscope would work better."

The pair rapidly moved to the larger, better equipped, lab and in seconds they had an image of the scrolls up on the television monitor. "There" Sam said, "Down on the left hand corner," She pointed out a symbol that looked much like a modern A without the cross bar. Above the peak of the symbol was a double circle surrounded by wavy lines. "How much do you want to bet that symbol represents earth?"

"No bet," Daniel replied. He was beginning to suspect that Sam was right, but to get that kind of drift in a written language would require millennia. "Sam can we scan each of the visible symbols into the computer and cross check them against the gates database?"

Sam thought about his question. "I suppose we could. I'd have to modify the character recognition patterns to compensate for the differences." Sam began to smell a rat, "Daniel, where did this photo come from?"

"How long would that take?" Daniel was carefully avoiding Sam's question.

"No more than a few minutes to make the changes and the a few hours while the computer complets the search. Sam's face became serious, "Danile, where did this come from?"

"Sam, do me a favor, don't ask… at least not yet."

Stargate conference room

General George Hammond strode into the conference room. His uniform, from the command wings he'd earned as a fighter pilot to his spit shined shoes, simply screamed I lead. "Good morning SG-1" he began as he waved the members back into their seats.

"Morning sir" was the echoed reply from the group.

"I have to admit I am somewhat confused as to why we are having a meeting, no off world missions are currently scheduled."

"That would make two of us General. The speaker, Col. Jack O'Neill, leader of the SG-1 team turned his head and stared at his scientific advisor, answered in a incredulous tone, "So Daniel, why exactly why are were here?"

Daniel opened up a folder and dealt out photographs like they were a deck of cards. "I received a photograph from Mr. Giles asking me to help with the translation of certain symbols. Most of them we have no record for but of the seven scrolls, each had one symbol that matched our Stargate,"Reacting to a glare from Captain Carter, Daniel paused for just a second, "Well nearly matched our Stargate."

"Nearly…" Jack exclaimed, "How close do you call nearly?"

Carter took it upon herself to answer, "A sixty five percent chance Sir."

"SIXTY FIVE PERCENT…. Yelled Jack, "I can get better odds on the Lakers. General I can see where this is going. Next he'd gonna want to open the gate just to see if the coordinates work."

"Jack… You don't understand. These symbols could lead us to discoveries…"

"They can also get us killed and Oh yea… the rest of the Earth along with us. How old are the scrolls?"

"I don't know. I don't actually have the scrolls so I can't test them." Daniel confessed, "But taking their source into account, at least 10,000 years I would guess."

"So let me get this straight; you want us to send a team out on the basis of a sixty five percent chance based only on a photograph?"

"Yes I think it's worth a try."

General Hammond stopped the argument that he was going to make moot anyway. "I'm sorry Dr. Jackson, but I agree with Col. O'Neill, with the changing political climate I can't authorize a mission based on speculation at best. Times are a changing around here folks and not for the better, if that's all dismissed."

"General Hammond?" Daniel interrupted before the balding man could leave the room. "Could I at least share our results with Mr. Giles?"

George Hammond thought about that, "Do it quietly Dr. Jackson, there are eyes everywhere."

Sunnydale California

The telephone rang in the command center of Xander's mansion. Merlin, knowing no one was currently home, traced the number back to a home in Colorado that was registered to Daniel Jackson. The AI quickly secured the connection before he answered. "Hello," he said in Xander's voice.

"Hi this is Daniel Jackson could I please speak with Mr. Giles?"

"Ah… Dr. Jackson, So nice to hear from you again," The AI said in his own voice. "I'm afraid that Mr. Giles is unavailable just now. Is there something I could help you with?"

Daniel thought quickly. He didn't have a reason not to trust Merlin but with General Hammonds warning, he'd planned on being very vague when he spoke to Giles. "Not really… at least it's not something I would be willing to talk about on the phone."

"That need not concern you. Currently anyone listening is getting a rather boring conversation about the origins of the Sphinx."

Daniel couldn't help but smile. "Maybe they'll learn something. Ok… are you aware that Mr. Giles sent me a photograph of a set of scrolls?"

That surprised the AI. "I was not, but it doesn't surprise me. Have you made progress on them?

"Possibly yes, we think it, or at least part of it, is connected to the Stargates. We've identified characters that are possible combinations. What it means I don't know and the SGC has been forbidden to explore on speculation. I was hoping that Mr. Giles would be able to explain the origins of the scrolls. That might make a difference to the people that now control Stargate operations. Please have him contact me as soon as possible."

"I' afraid that may be some time. Would you care to share the information?"

"No I'd rather convey my results to Mr. Giles directly. Look its not that I don't trust you, it's just that I feel more comfortable speaking with Giles…"

Chapter 5


Daa'naal's yell hadn't finished its echo off of the snow covered trees when the Elven mage realized his mistake. This was Toril not Earth, there were things here that would kill, or try to kill him for the clothes on his back. He'd grown lax in his years on Earth and the price for his inattention came charging right at him.

//Daa'naal, watch out…// said Giles in a concerned tone of voice. Giles thought that some demon had followed them from Earth. After all, the human had never see Orcs before.

The first Orc charged the elven mage. Daa'naal wasted no time. He called the Sword of Life to hand and in a single fluid movement, he ducked under the charging monsters clenched fist and swept the enchanted black across the Orcs leg. //Relax my friend, its like riding a bike, you never forget.//

The Orc fell to the ground howling in the Orc language for its battle mates to kill the cursed Elf.

//Some how I doubt that you ever learned to ride a bicycle.//

Giles view of the combat felt somewhat strange to Him. He could see things, just as he always did in his human body. In fact he was experiencing a nearly out of body kind of vision. Even with Daa'naal concentrating on the threat before him, Giles could look around in what he could only compare to a panoramic view. For the first time he began to appreciate the symbiotic relationship he and Daa'naal shared.

The fallen Orc lay in the newly fallen snow howling in pain. Gouts of blood that stained the snow continued to grow as the magical effect of the sword kept the Orc from raising and joining his comrades.

Daa'naal in the meantime was taking his time. Orcs, no matter their numbers weren't really a threat to the Master Mage, but the only combat he'd faced in the years had been in the dreaming where making a mistake didn't cost you your life.

Daa'naal ducked under the club that Orc number two swung at his head in a murderous fashion. Daa'naal did not have the room to properly swing the Sword, so he jammed his sword handle into the guts of the Orc. He was relieved to get a grunt from the creature that was more than half again his size. Daa'naal ducked under the Orc and rolled away from it, getting a tree between himself and the ugly bastard. It finally struck home to the mage that playing with the Orcs wasn't really the best of ideas. //Giles how about a little help here?//

//Are you finally done playing// Giles teased his partner.

//Oh shut up and cast the barrier spell// The was a flavor in Daa'naal's words that left the watcher believing that Daa'naal didn't really need his help, that this was a test of the new fusion between the pair.

//Oh very well// Giles cast the shield spell that he'd taught to Tara and Robert. //Now if you are done playing, there is a reason I brought the pistols,// the scacastic tone in Giles voice was thick.//don't you think it might be a good time to see if they work in this dimension?//

//Against Orcs, you have to be kidding me.// the contempt and disdain that the elf felt for the creatures flowed through to Giles in full force.//Get ready to drop the shield on my word.//

Daa'naal rested against a tree and readied himself. He drew in a deep breath and readied himself. The elf's body coiled in tension, as he prepared his attack. When he was ready he signaled Giles to drop the field, //Now// he command and he sprung into action.

The elf's body sprung upward like a missile. At the peak of the jump he swiveled at the waist till he was nearly hovering above the nearest Orc. With all of his strength he threw the Sword of Life straight down. Cracking the thick skull of the Orc and splattering it blood all over the base of the tree.

The elf didn't let the momentary success go to his head. He completed the dive roll, taking the force of his fall on both shoulders and redirecting him momentum forward towards the last Orc. He finished the roll and came to his feet, his fist flashing toward the dual shoulder holsters that were home to the Detonics that Giles favored. The large bore pistol spat fire three time, all of the shots striking the Orc in the middle of the forehead, giving the already strange monster a third eye.

Still amped up by the combat Daa'naal turned to where the first Orc had fallen, only to find a trail of blood staining the snow. //He couldn't have gotten very far//

Giles had been watching Daa'naal's back during the fight. //He didn't, over there by the large bush//

Sure enough the Orc was inching away from the combat, struggling along on his hands and one good leg, leaving a trail of black blood as it went. When it saw Daa'naal approaching him it growled and screamed at the Elf. Daa'naal knew that there wasn't much in the way of information that could be gotten from an Orc so he called the sword back to his hand and mercifully killed the creature with a single stroke that sent the Orc's head flying from the body.

Daa'naal gave a satisfied grunt which triggered a bout of laughter from his companion. The elf started digging through the pockets of the dead Orcs

//Really Daa'naal is that necessary?//

"Giles," The Master Mage said out loud as he dusted the snow and mud off his clothes, "This is Toril and there are two ways to survive, have power or have money." Daa'naal kicked the body of the first dead Orc onto its back and dug into its pockets finding only a few coppers. "In our case, we have the power," He stared at the few measly coins he looted from the Orcs, "But we are going to need a lot more money."

The next few hours passed quietly. The only mode of transportation available to the pair was nature's ponies, the shoe leather express. Daa'naal didn't mind. Growing up on Toril you grew used to the slower pace of life. The rich, they rode horses or carriages. The commoners walked everywhere or if they were really lucky rode in a caravan of wagons. Daa'naal had done both in his day, though if anyone asked, he'd have said he preferred the horse.

Giles could sense the nostalgic temper of Daa'naal's thoughts. He could sense the feelings, but no specific memory played itself through, //You seem awfully pleased with yourself.//

The elven mage smiled inwardly. //Old memories.// Daa'naal swept his arm at the surrounding snow covered forest. //I've traveled this road many…many times. The first time I was still a boy. My parents allowed my Aunt to take me along on a caravan she was guarding.//

The distant past in the elven forest

Maraenwe Taralome waited patiently in her sister house. It wasn't often that the Harper got to visit her kin so she had taken special attention to make sure that she got at least a day and a night to catch up with the forest bound side of her family.

Her sister, Marael came bustling in from the kitchen carrying a pot of tea served on her best china. "I wish you'd have given us some warning Mara, I don't have a thing in the house and Dwyfal will be at school for at least another hour are you sure you cant stay longer?"

Maraenwe smiled at her twin sister and gently patted her on the shoulder, this will do fine. We have all night and till noon's peak tomorrow catch up. It's just so nice to see you again. A radiant joy spread out from the sisters, Children were rare among the Elven clans, large families were even rarer, and twins were almost unheard of. With the exception of looks, the two sisters couldn't have been less alike. Marael loved living in the house that her father had built in the trees of their town. The feeing of family and home completed her.

Her sister was just the opposite, and she lived for traveling the open roads, one night sleeping on the ground and the next entertaining in a bar in exchange for lodging and a chance to make a few coins.

A young man entered the room carrying a bow and quiver that his father had made for him. He hung the weapon on its honored spot and walked over to his mother and aunt. Even to those who'd never met his mother before, they would instantly recognize whose line he came from. Daa'naal was tall for an Elf, tall and lanky. "Mother," he said respectfully. He turned to their guest, "Aunt Mara." He kissed his aunts cheek because it was expected of him.

"Mara grabbed the young elf and pulled him into a hug, "Is that anyway to treat someone who has come to offer you a job for the summer?"

Daa'naal's and his mother's eyes went wide. Marael was the first to speak, "Mara are you sure about this, he is only still a boy?"

"That's true, but I figured before he settled down and became a teacher like you and Dwyfal, he should at least have one summer of adventure and excitement. How about it Daa, feel like going off to far away places and rescuing beautiful women?" The elven woman couldn't help herself when she saw the young elf's eyes light up. <He takes more after me than either his parents> Mara thought to her self, <Time to burst his bubble.>

She turned to her sister, "Relax Ael, it's just a scheduled route between here and the coast. I've been contracted to provide security for raw material shipments. It should be as exciting as watching the snow melt." She turned to Daa'naal, "But it will put a nice piece of silver in your pocket, how about it boy, want to go rambling about with your old Aunty?"

Daa'naal's eyes never lost their shimmer. In his mind it was an adventure and anything was better than being stuck here all summer. His gaze shifted to his mother, "Well?"

"Well I'll have to discuss it with your father…"

Present day, Toril

Giles laughed at the memory of an awkward Daa'naal, eager to travel and have excitement. //I believe that falls under the category of be careful what you wish for//

//Indeed. It so happened that the caravan was attacked on its last run. That's when I found out that being a Harper meant more than just singing songs.//

A sense of urgency entered the Elf's tone, //Now is not the time for that.// A surge of emotion filled the Mage. //Behold Giles… My Home.//

Giles gazed upon a grove of trees that seemed somehow to him to have been grown in directed pattern. Beautiful living woodwork spanned the grove of trees making it a small town. Up in the limbs Giles could see elves going about their daily business.

Chapter 6

Elf Home, the forest of Toril

Daa'naal strode into his home town as if he'd been away for a weekend. On the exterior he looked calm but inside he was as close to panic as an elf could get. He had no idea how his parents would take his return from the dead and having to explain where he'd been was likely to be a long process… a very long process… and not one he was going to enjoy.

He wandered down the road that led through the large stand of trees; well you really couldn't call it a road, not in the wintertime anyway, more like a well defined path and it seemed to be much more defined than Daa'naal remembered from his youth. He was nearly home when a shout erupted from a building near by. <Hmm, that's new, I didn't think the council would allow ground level buildings in town> Looking for any excuse to delay meeting with his parents he decided to investigate.

The exterior of the new building was made of mud brick that must have been shipped in from far away as the use of deadwood in town was forbidden by both tradition and law. As he got closer to the building the noise level grew steadily. As the noise level climbed so did Daa'naal's anxiety level. <This would never have been allowed in my time.> the sounds of laughter came from the curtained doorway. Daa'naal noticed that a name had been painted across the bricks; The Broken Wagon.

"Oh Damn," He muttered. It was then that he realized that the local population never went near the pub and that pretty much told the whole story. "It's a fucking long haul bar," he said borrowing the expletive from Giles's rotund vocabulary.

Daa'naal swept the curtain aside and stood in the doorway. He glanced about checking out the people. He found a mixed group, Humans, clumped in groups around the room Halflings of various races, some of them obviously working, as they were dressed as servants. The occasional dwarf and a few even the master mage couldn't identify. For the middle of the day the bar was nearly full and by the condition of the patrons most had probably been there all night.

It was the lack of elves that disturbed Daa'naal the most. Daa'naal made a quick decision, he quietly cast a detect magic spell. The results surprise him. The bartender, a fat man, whose face was scarred with old acne stood out in a bright green light, but the brightest return he got was from a curtained room off to the side. He flung the curtain behind him and entered the bar. The room hushed as the tall elf walked across the dirt floor. Daa'naal stared straight forward but he could feel the eyes of every one of the patrons on him. He found a table that had been shoved off into a corner and sat down, his back against the wall.

"Would you like a drink sir? A small half elf asked. She was a pretty little thing and Daa'naal smiled as her. There being a long standing dislike of half breeds among full blooded elves He was quiet sure that the other of his race had not treated her with respect.

"Ale please," He answered. Good ale was of the things that Daa'naal missed most about home.

"Right away," she said publicly. But she bent down and whispered in his ear, "You shouldn't be in here." The scantily clad half elf sat down on his lap and continued to whisper in his ear as if trying to make a deal for the night. What was actually said was much more ominous. "If you stay in here they will kill you and take what ever you have."

He cast another quick spell, this one to discover if he could trust the little half elf, Daa'naal forced a smile onto his face to give the crowd impression that he was welcoming her advances, "Now that I'd like to see. Have care little sister," He waved across the room, "like everyone else in here, I am more that I seem." Daa'naal tossed three coppers on her tray," bring me ale and we can talk about business." He said just loud enough that the humans at the closest table could hear him.

"The half stuck her nose in the air as if totally offended. "That will cover the ale; if you want anything else you'd best have more than a copper on you." In the background the humans gave a huge laugh at her comment.

//Daa'naal,// Giles chipped in, //Cant you feel the anger directed at you, is almost as if elves are not welcome I can not believe that such a place would be allowed to exist.//

//It wasn't like this when I was a kid Giles. No there is much more going on than meets the eye. Notice the bartender, he fits the classic profile of a failed human, yet he is at least a 10th level magic user. I suppose its possible that he's a retired adventurer.//

The speculation of the pair was broken when a Short stocky human kicked their table over. Dressed in the skin of some wild animal and reeking of human sweat, the human placed his hand on his sword. "Now I suppose it possible that you are new in town. So you aren't aware of the rules." He took another step closer to Daa'naal and a more sinister tone entered his voice, "The first rule is that no dammed Elves are allowed."

"Is that so?" Daa'naal kicked the table out of the way, "And just who is going to enforce that rule, you," he added in a sarcastic challenge. The telltale sound of metal on metal reached the Mage's ears. "If that sword clears the sheath, you're a dead man."

The human deflated. He turned away and if to return to his table. //Watch him Daa'naal// Giles warned. And sure enough the human spun around, drawing his sword. The human was fast, probably convince enough of his own skill that he could kill the intruding elf before it would even realize that he was attacking, He was wrong.

The Human fighter tried to strike in an uppercut as he drew his sword from the left side of his body. Figuring to wound his opponent and then finish him off at his leisure. That plan met resistance where the only thing his sword met was god forged enchanter metal.

The Sword of Life cleaved the cheap iron sword in half through the thickness of the blade, leaving the human holding only half a blade and the pommel of his sword. Daa'naal stomped on the man's foot driving him off balance. Then a quick knee to the groin and the Human fighter collapsed onto the floor holding the family jewels. The next thing he felt was the razor sharp edge of the Sword of Life against his neck.

"Here's the way it is friend," Daa'naal threatened. "I promised you that if that sword cleared it sheath you were a dead man. I'm giving you a choice, give me your purse and other weapons and you can walk out of here, a little poorer but alive. The other choice is that I take what I want and you end up where ever your local god allows, make a choice."

//Daa'naal, his friends are coming.// Giles warned his companion as he cast a spell. The mixed group that was building the courage froze in their steps. The spell cast by Giles left them conscious but unable to move a single muscle.

Daa'naal glanced up and found that every eye in the bar was on him. "Listen up everyone. From now on I will come and go as I please and no motley crew of long hauls is going to stop me from having a drink when I want one. If anyone of you has tagged me as an easy mark take a lesson from this piece of shits mistake." Daa'naal's eyes darkened to an evil looking black, if I'm threatened again, there will be no more second chances." He kicked the fighter at his feet, "Well what's it going to be Sparky, live or die your choice, make it fast as I'm growing annoyed."

"Live," The fighter grunted.

"An excellent choice, now the purse" Daa'naal demanded. The man reached under the tunic he was wearing. "Careful now, if anything but your purse come out all bets are off. The man tossed a heave purse on the floor at Daa'naal's feet. "Very nice, the mage said. //Scan him Giles//

//He has another knife in a neck sheath and two gold pieces in false compartments in the heels of his boots.//

Daa'naal tapped the man's forehead with the tip of his boot, "Now the knives, and don't forget the holdout down the back." The man complied, laying both knives at Daa'naal's feet, glaring at the Mage the entire time. "Well friend you've nearly survived your mistake. Now the gold in your boots and you are free to go.

If looks could kill Daa'naal would have been six feet under in a microsecond. The man sat up and carefully he pressed hidden releases that allowed the heels of his boots to swing out. He tossed the gold at Daa'naal.

"Very nice, now as a consolation prize I'll give you these." Daa'naal tossed the remaining coppers that he taken off the Orcs. "Now get out of here and don't come back.

After all the excitement the bar settled down quickly. The laughter returned, but it was laced with a respect for the Elf that sat in the corner. Daa'naal righted the table and sat back down, waiting for his ale. With all the excitement He'd worked up a thirst. He was counting the money from the purse when the half elf girl returned. "The mistress would like to see you sir."

"Where's my drink?" He demanded.

"The mistress will explain. Please follow me."

Daa'naal didn't see much choice; after all he had nearly started a riot in the place. So he followed the young girl to the room off to the side. When he stepped through the doorway he felt like a young man again.

His Aunt sat at the desk, "Now Daa, what have you done to my Bar."

Chapter 7

<What the hell is she doing in a place like this?> "Aunt Mara" he asked in total surprise.

Daa'naal's surprise wasn't just at finding His aunt there; no it was the surroundings he found her in that shocked Him. The office was the complete opposite of the outer room. Light cast about the room from ornate fixtures, burning scented oil, revealing wooden paneled walls that would have sent the townspeople into a rage. His aunt sat a desk that could only have been carefully grown over decades of dedicated service from an elven wood master. Behind her was the sword that Daa'naal remembered so well from his youth.

//I suppose if we wait we are going to find out.// Giles couldn't help but feel bemused at Daa'naal's plight. It wasn't often that the elven mage was flummoxed and Giles's planned a little payback for all the times that Daa'naal had busted his balls over his little arguments with Faith.

"Don't you Aunt Mara me" she said indignantly, her face as close to rage as he had ever seen. "Why didn't you listen when Emily told you that you didn't belong in here? Do you have any idea how many years of work you may have ruined?

"But… how was I to know…."

Mara wasn't finished yet, "and running Taran off. Oh now that was pure genius." Maraenwe began what was becoming a very long, loud, and much too public, rant at her nephew.

Giles started feeling sorry for Daa'naal. Mara was using the same tone of voice with the mage, that his grandmother had used when he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and her voice was getting louder and louder with each passing sentence. Giles searched his memory for a spell that might help, finding one he cast it with a quickly said word.

Daa'naal felt the flush of power as Giles executed the spell. //Giles what have you done?//

//A simple cone of silence spell. We don't need the whole neighborhood knowing our business, now do we.//

Daa'naal stood under Mara's barrage as long as he could. Each sentence was louder than then previous and the language grew progressively harsher and harsher. When she had reduced herself to cursing at him in Gnome, finally he'd had it. He slapped the desk hard and roared… "ENOUGH…"

Mara stood up from the desk looking as if she were ready to come to blows over the argument. "Do you have any idea how long it too the Harpers to set this place up." She said slowly, returning to a language that Daa'naal understood. "Do you… It took years to build a cover story, now you com prancing back from the dead and in the course of twenty minutes ruin nearly a centaury of my hard work."

The Elven matron ran out of steam, allowing Daa'naal to get a word in edgewise. "I'm sorry if I've ruined the Harpers plans Aunt Mara but there are mitigating circumstances." Daa'naal stopped there. He pulled out a chair and sat before his aunt's desk, nearly daring her to sit down and listen.

Maraenwe glared at the cocky elf. "You're too much like me Daa. You stick your nose in where it doesn't belong. Have you at least been to see your mother and father yet?"

"Not yet," the Mage confessed, "I was on my way there when I noticed this place." Daa'naal leaned forward, "What the hell is going on Mara. The town council would have never had agreed to allow this kind of place."

"They would if the Harpers council asked them too." Mara leaned back in her chair and appraised her nephew. "Times have been rough since you've been gone Daa. At first it was one or two occurrences that even the Council missed: An eleven child that goes missing with no explanation. Then a sudden increase in traffic through this area that no one, including me, could figure out."

"That should have been easy enough to find out." Daa'naal said.

"Don't rush me, I'm getting to it, then two very experienced agents of the council are found dead just outside of town. The coincidences were just too much. The council decided to take action. It was felt at the time that we needed better intelligence and I was called in.

"Because I came from this town and had worked the freight lines it was felt that I had the best chance of fitting in without drawing too much attention. I was assigned to investigate what was happening, and given any resource that the council could provide. Thus the town council was asked to cooperate. That's when I opened The Broken Wagon."

"We let it be known that I forced the town council to allow me to open this bar. As I'm sure you can surmise the locals shunned this place and we encouraged it. I used that to establish my cover as an ex-adventurer who had soured on her own people. We made it clear that elves weren't welcome in The Broken Wagon; we even went so far as to set up a few sham riots. Now you've gone and blown that cover. So Daa… Tell me where have you been and why you are here?" leaning back in her chair, her arms folded, she grinned at her nephew.

"Remember all those wild stories you use to tell on the road?

Mara seemed puzzled by the question. Sure she hadn't been above stretching the facts to entertain her young nephew, but that was half the fun have having nephews and the stories were true, <Well mostly true,>" Yes…"

Daa'naal leaned forward; his eyes locking onto his aunts, "What has happened to me makes all your old stories seem like bedtime stories. But I'd rather only tell the tale once, and you know my mother, won't let me have a minute's peace until she know every detail.

Later that night, after a very long reunion with his parents, Daa'naal, sleeping in the same bed he had as a young man, entered what he thought was the dreaming. He found himself and Giles walking down a road. An ominous Darkness surrounded him, but there was a presence that could be felt, but for every step forward he took, it stayed just out of reach.

This is very odd." he thought. At the same time there was something that he should recognize, something…

"Avenge me…" came a whisper in the night.

Giles stood by the mage's side, "Daa'naal… did you hear that too?

"Avenge me and save my people." A shimmering form of a small Dragan appeared before the pair. "I have very little time, the dragon said. Kelemvor had released me at the behest of Mystra to guide you on the first steps of your quest… Seek the Castle of Narwhal. In its bowels lay my remains while the one you seek revels in power above… "Avenge me and erase my shame…" The last words were bare audible as the small dragon faded back into the land of the dead.

Daa'naal shot out of bed, instinctually calling the sword of life to hand to defend himself from what ever was attacking. Drawing the sword back he just managed to check the swing when he realized it was him mother standing in from of him. Daa'naal blushed, angered at him self at nearly decapitating him Mother.

"Oh my Daa," she said as she was startled by the sight of the sword. Recovering quickly she added in a nonchalant voice, "How many time have I told you not to bring weapons into the house? You know they are to be hung up in the foyer.

"Mother," he said embarrassed, "Please don't call me that. I'm a grown man after all."

Chapter 8

Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Home of Daniel Jackson

Still feeling frustrated from having his proposal rejected, Daniel drove home in a foul mood. Arriving home he loaded all of the improved images that he and Sam had made and started studying them.

He opened a file, recalling the list of possibilities; there on the screen were the 17 that Sam had highlighted as the strongest possible match. He recalled the database that SG had gotten from the Goa'uld. "I just don't understand it. We find a series of gates that the Goa'uld has never visited and they won't even take a look."

Daniel hung his head in disgust and decided to break security. General Hammond had agreed that Daniel could share the information with Giles, but he wasn't so sure that Merlin would be included in that authorization; He picked up the telephone anyway and called the number that Xander had given to each member of the SG-1 team.

Merlin answered on the first ring. Knowing who was calling, he imitated Rupert Giles's voice perfectly. "Hello" he said in a perfect upper class English accent.

"Hello Mr. Giles, This is Daniel Jackson calling. Iv found out something interesting about the photographs you sent me and I was wondering if it would be possible for us to get together and discuss them

"I'm afraid that's going to be a problem, Merlin replied, "You see I just got back not ten minutes ago and I'm afraid I will be leaving again in a few hours. Is this something we can handle over the phone perhaps?"

Daniel looked disappointed. "I'm afraid not. Look I really need to move on this. Is there anyone that might be able to discuss this?"

"Not currently. Robert is off on assignment and we currently don't have enough mages to fill in all the hot spots."

"Damn, cursed the archeologist. That wasn't the answer I was hoping to hear. Here's my problem: The scrolls that you sent me have a series of gate combinations on them. As far as we can tell these gates aren't not from the Goa'uld sarcophagus, in fact we have no records of them at all. We ran all of the possibilities through a computer and found that there are 17 combinations that we could access, if we could get permission. Currently that isn't an option.

"Well I suppose that Merlin may be of some help, Merlin said in Giles's voice, "Perhaps even more so then you think, He does have much more detailed records than I do, as I'm sure you are aware of, let me get him on the line."

Merlin sent a few beeps and clicks just to make it sound right to Daniel, "Yes Giles"

"Merlin do you think you could help Dr. Jackson whist I'm away," Merlin said still imitating Giles's voice.

"The commander has instructed me to help the Stargate team in whatever manner I can as long as it doesn't conflict with any other order, so I'd be delighted to help," The Ai replied, "I spoke with Dr, Jackson earlier but he preferred that he speak with you."

"No that's ok." Daniel wasn't all that happy about the turn of events, but with Giles gone, he had no one else to turn to.

Returning to his normal voice Merlin asked Daniel, "How may I help you Doctor Jackson?"

Daniel, unaware that he'd been talking to Merlin the entire time, filled the AI in on what he'd said to Giles.

"Very well, if you would log on to your computer I'd be happy to see if anything matches."

Daniel connected to the internet while still talking to Merlin on the phone. When the connection was made the hard drive of his computer went crazy. "Well I see you managed to get in," he said in a semi-rude tone of voice," you could have at least asked."

"I thought my help has already been requested."

"Ok…ok, don't be so touchy. Find anything?"

"My databases have no matching symbols. I am currently accessing outside sources, It may take a while…"

"Don't you find that just a little odd," puzzled Daniel.

"Normally I would say yes, However the Ancients took great care that their early works not influence less developed races."

"Wait a second…. Did you say ancients?" In Daniel's mind that put a whole new spin on the whole ball. "If these are, as you say; a written record oft he ancients, than General Hammond and Jack have to reconsider their decision." Daniel slammed the phone down and headed out the door. Just as he was grabbing his keys the phone rang again. "Hello," He said breathlessly, anxious to get back to the SGC.

"Don't be in such a hurry Daniel. Watch the monitor; I think you might find it interesting."

On the monitor a grainy black and white image was playing. In the image, soldiers in world war two era uniforms were manually turning what appeared to be the Stargate. "What the hell is this? Daniel muttered to him self, nearly transfixed to the screen. Daniel never noticed that he'd dropped his keys to the floor and had sat back down in his chair.

"From what I gather this is your people's first use of the Stargate."

Secure Location, classified.

Doctor Ernst Littlefield stood there waiting for the young Navy diver, Chief Billy Sunday. to finish explaining how that rig worked. "Listen to me Doc, you don't do this just right and you're gonna end up D E A D, dead, and that's a fact! now Ill start again and this time you pay attention."

Thirty minutes later, the Ernst nodded that he understood the Chief's instructions and signaled to be hatted. In the back ground, Billy Sunday picked up the bronze helmet from the bench, "You sure about this?" He glanced over his shoulder at the water filled ring that was standing vertically." Look Doc it aint too late, I can still swap out with ya."

"Thank you Chief, but what you know about science equals what I know about diving. Besides if something goes wrong, I'd rather have you come after me than anyone else."

"All right then, lets get her done, Mind you, you remember what I said and you should be ok," The chief finished suiting Doctor Littlefield up and as the diver started to walk towards the gate, The chief grabbed the old corn cob pipe that Macarthur had given him after he'd swum out of the St Lo and lit it up.

The chief thought he'd seen everything in his years in the Navy, but when the gate collapsed and the feed hose fell to the floor; the only thing he could think to say was, "Well I'll be damned."

Fifty years later, Daniel was equally stunned, though not for the same reason. Wait a second, why hasn't any of this been made available to us before," Merlin can you isolate the symbols that they dialed." "It hasn't been made available because its held in a classified database in the pentagon. They've just recently begun adding archival footage in a digital form. It was your search parameters that triggered the search, that's how I found it. The date of entry to the systems is less than five months ago."

"Can you isolate the gate coordinates?"

"By your numbering system, it would be PB2-908."

Run a hard copy of each of the symbols to my printer and send copies of that footage to my computer at the SGC." Daniel picked up his cell phone and dialed Jacks number.

"Jack. Daniel, can you meet me at SGC?"

"Well yes and no, there's been an interesting development in the case."

Stargate Command conference room.

Jack O'Neill walked into the conference room. The rest of the team was already assembled and waiting for him, "Morning folks. This had better be damn good Daniel. I don't appreciate calls in the middle of the night to rehash something we've already decided was too risky."

"Well Like I sad on the phone there are some new developments. Watch this. Daniel pressed the play button on the computer.

Thirty minutes later and with a lot of complaining from Jack, General Hammond closed the meeting with, "SG-1 you have a go."

Chapter 9

In the locker room Daniel and Col O'Neill dressed for the mission. Jack shrugged the combat vest over his shoulders and pulled in into place. "I hope you realize that this is a lost cause," he smirked in Daniel's direction.

"Why Jack, because it doesn't meet with your criteria? Well I'm sorry, but I disagree."

Jack was never one to hide his feelings, "Some how that doesn't surprise me."

Daniel nearly gave up in disgust, but there was something that wouldn't let him let it go. "Look Jack, they managed to activate the Stargate nearly fifty years ago, aren't you the least bit curious on how they did that or even more importantly, why the gate was put back in storage? Add to that, when we find Dr. Littlefield think of all that he may have learned."

"If we find him, Frankly Daniel, no, I'm not convinced. Second I think it's a huge waste of this command's resources to go jumping around the galaxy on the basis of a picture regardless of the source and a hope that you and Carter got the address right." Jack slapped a magazine in the P-90 and slapped the bolt down. "Now if you'll excuse me Dr. Jackson, I have a mission to get ready for."

The flashing red light, indicating Stargate activation glinted off the window of the command center, accompanied by the howling siren that filled the room. In the control center the Sergeant on duty watched the gate spin and counted off the connection. The wheel mechanism stopped with a loud clunk. "Chevron six locked." The gate began spinning again and it landed on the symbol that represented Earth. "Chevron seven locked and engaged: Wormhole established and stable."

In the gate room itself Sg-1 was standing by. Daniel glanced over to Jack but addressed his comment to Sam Carter, "Looks like a connection to me. Don't you think so Sam?"

Sam's eyes flickered back and forth between Jack and Daniel. She wasn't the only one notice the tension between the two men. Teal'c had picked up on it as well. He merely stood by and watched, it wasn't the time or the place to be playing peacemaker between Jack and Daniel, a role he'd fund himself in many time in the past.

"I heard that Daniel," Jack responded. "Even a blind squirrel finds and acorn now and again," He added in his unique country voice.

"Send in the MALP," Hammond ordered, his voice booming over the speaker in the gate room.

The members of SG-1 stood to the side to allow the MALP access to the ramp that lead to the gate. The small go cart sized robot trundled forward slowly. It pierced the aqua blue event horizon of the Stargate and slowly disappeared.

"MALP is in transit, we should have data acquisition in 12 seconds". The technician turned toward the monitor, "signal is established and the MALF is transmitting." He announced as he began the environmental scans, "Atmosphere within in normal limits, receiving video signal."

The picture from the MALP was grim. Rubble was strewn about the room, Rocks and debris was obvious even in the poor quality of the MALP's television system. On a raised section of floor was the well known features of the DHD. "DHD has been detected," the sergeant announced to the team.

"Well at least we have a way home. General," Jack shouted into the air. "If we don't see any physical evidence that Dr. Littlefield even survived the trip through the Stargate. My recommendation would be," Jack glanced over at Daniel receiving only a hostile look in return, "That the project be abandoned."

Daniel was still fuming in his own private way, "Jack, If it were one of us would you be so quick to judgment?"

"No, Daniel I wouldn't, even if it were you missing, but the fact is; this guy has been missing for more that fifty years. Now I have been patient so far…"

"Patience…" Daniel couldn't believe the words that had just come out of Jack's mouth. "If Edison had your patience, we'd still be cooking over wood and lighting our homes with natural gas and candles."

"Gentlemen," Hammond interrupted before the bickering could get out of hand. "It's a moot point; SG-1, I think you'd better come up here."

"What now…" Jack complained as he turned for the door.

A few minutes later the team found themselves entering the control room. Typically, the bickering between Daniel and Jack had gone on unabated. "Did you find something general?" Daniel asked.

"I'd say so, look." The sight on the screen was just enough to shut Jack and Daniel up; There, sitting on a pile of rubble, its face plate open, was an old style, brass diving helmet.

"Ok," Jack reluctantly admitted, "maybe he lived for a while." Jack grabbed the P-90 that he'd laid down on the desk and headed to the gate room, a silent acknowledgment that whether he liked it or not, the team was heading to PB2-908

PB2-908 (aka Heliopolis)

Jack and Teal'c were the first through the gate, followed closely by Daniel and Sam. Jack's weapon swung to the right as Teal'c's aimed to the right. Light streamed in from elongated windows, casting shadows about the room. Particles of dust floated in the air, carried by a breeze coming in from the window. It was clear to the team that it had been some time since anything had been moved in a long time; undisturbed dust coated everything in the room.

Jack scanned his area of responsibility, finding only stone walls and rubble. Teal'c on the other hand, had several different doorways that he had to keep his eyes on. "O'Neill," he said in a deep almost musical tone of voice, knowing that just the single word and a glance and Jack would understand what he meant.

Jack nodded to Teal'c, "Gotcha Teal'c. Carter… Daniel… check the room on the right, Teal'c and I will take the left." Jack trod over the debris carefully. When he came to a corner, he peeked around it with his P-90 at the ready, seeing nothing other than an empty corridor he motioned Teal'c forward.

The tall Jaffa, his staff weapon at the ready, lead around the corner He glanced down the corridor and moved silently down the hallway, then motioned Jack forward. Rubble crunched between his feet as he checked every nook and cranny. He waived O'Neill forward when he was sure that no threats were present.

The pair continued the leap frog movement until they reached the last room. Jack stuck his head through the last doorway and his eyes went wide in surprise, "Daniel's gonna want to see this." In deed the room was impressive. Though not tall enough to house a Stargate, it was a close thing. Spread across the room; stacks and stacks of books. "How much do you want to bet that we have to drag Daniel out of this place with a forklift?"

Daniel followed the blonde major in the other direction hesitantly, the marking on the walls grabbed his eyes and demanded his interest and he was dying to inspect them more closely. First things first though, they were here on a rescue mission and finding Dr. Littlefield had priority over everything else.

Carter entered a large room, she scanned the room and estimated that it was perhaps twenty feet by forty, and the ceiling was at least fifty foot above her head. "Holy smokes," she whispered when she saw the glowing yellow letters on the black marble walls. In the center of the room was a control console that looked similar to the DHD.

Immediately Sam laid her weapon on the device and started to inspect it closely. "Careful Sam Daniel warned her from behind, "with our luck you'll activate the damn thing."

She carefully avoided touching the crystal center on the assumption that it may activate like the DHD's did, "I wasn't born yesterday Daniel."

The archeologist began wandering around the room, mentally checking the markings on the wall, looking for something that looked familiar. Her turned the corner and gasped, "Sam… SAM!!!"

Captain Carter grabbed her P-90 and swung it in Daniel's direction, "What's wrong," she said as she brought it to her shoulder and prepared to fire.

Daniel let loose a big sigh and hung his head, "Looks like Jack was right." He pointed down at the emancipated corpse of Ernst Littlefield.

"Damn, the captain cursed as she reached for the radio in her vest pocket to report their discovery to The Colonel. Before she could speak the radio came to life with it own message. "Carter, you and Daniel better get in here, we've found something. Jack O'Neill's voice was strangely subdued.

Carter's eyes darted to Daniel as she hit the transmit button, "Colonel, I think you'd better come here first. We found Dr. Littlefield… He's dead sir."

Chapter 10

Elf Home, Toril

Daa'naal and his aunt sat at the community table planning the next move when Daa'naal felt a flush of power from a nearby source.

"Look," Daa'naal traced a route on an old map that he'd dug up from his room, "I'll head up the Trade Way to Waterdeep stopping at Balders Gate. If anyone knows where the castle Narwhal is," the elf shook his head, "some one in one of those towns will know, and everything is for sale in Waterdeep."

"And you'd just as likely to get waylaid along the way. Look Daa, You can't just go wandering off alone," his Aunt protested when Daa'naal had explained his plans. "You know, or should, that lone travelers tend to disappear and are never to be seen again."

Daa'naal reached for his cup of bark tea as he considered his situation. The hot liquid slid down his throat. He set the china cup down. "It's not like I've never been here before Aunt Mara, and its not like I am just anyone."

"No you aren't, but you're still as impetuous as ever. There's a damn good reason that only groups travel those roads. Gods know I made a good living out of protecting people on them and still we weren't always successful. Gods only know the first decent magician that senses your presence is going to see who you are and what you are up to. Face it Daa, you are going to stand out like a light house unless you take precautions."

"I'm not a small boy anymore Aunt Mara; nor am I as unskilled as you seem to assume."

"No you aren't but you've been away a long time, thing change and you've not been here to adapt to them." The older Harper close her eyes, after a few minutes, "your mother suffered your loss Daa, That's one of the reasons I accepted this post for the Harper's council, so I could be near by." Mara sat up in her seat and a glint formed in her eye. "I'll tell you what; if I can guarantee you that the trip would be faster that you traveling alone would you agree to that?"

Daa'naal knew that look all too well. "What are you up too?"

"Now why would I be up to something? It's a simple proposition, would you make the deal if I can guarantee the trip would go faster, yes or no? Careful now lad, I'm holding you too this bargain."

"If you can guarantee that, then yes I would accept, but I don't see how you can make that promise."

"Done deal then. Its simple really, I already know where the Castle Narwhal is."

Daa'naal gave in gracefully, he'd been hustled from the start and the only thing left for him to do was follow thought, "Ok Where is it." He asked the now grinning Elven woman.

"That's a good boy. Now here," She traced her finger across the map, "we follow the Trade Way past the Lizard Marsh, to the north of the River Delimbiye. The Castle Narwhal in on the Sword Coast just West of Ardeep forest. Now the way I've figured it, since you don't have to go to Waterdeep to get information, I just saved you a week of travel time."

"And talked your way into coming along as well," Daa'naal had to admit that his aunt was right; she just saved him a lot of valuable time, A sentiment that Giles seconded heartily.

"That too, C'mon Daa, it won't be that bad, at the very worst we will have someone to talk to as we travel. Plus I wasn't planning on marching an army up the Trade way."

"Then who do you have in Mind?"

"My bartender Darvon, You'll find that he is a handy person to have a round. Knows every healing spell ever invented and on occasion he's, managed to make a few up off the cuff. I went on many an adventure with that fat old man."

Daanaal's tone left no doubts on his opinion,"Anyone else that you might have in mind, Perhaps the waitress or maybe the jerk that I kicked out of the bar."

Mara reached over the long table. She thumped Daa'naal on the fore head with her middle finger. "Mind yourself boy, Taran isn't much of a threat on his own but he has powerful friends."

"Then I should have killed him when I had the chance."

"No," Mara sighed, "as it is my cover still has a chance of standing up. Taran was my only real link to the group that has been terrorizing Elf Home. We know for a fact that he was the one that kidnapped the children and it's taken all of my power to keep the parents from having him killed, now you may have done that for them, only time will tell. I think our best plan would be to close the bar and get out on the road as soon as possible."

Giles had been strangely quiet, <that's the first thing I've heard that I can concur with 100 percent.>

"I'll go tell Darvon that we are leaving in the morning, you find Emily and have her meets us here at sunrise."

"right, any idea where I might find her?"

Mara snorted in disgust, "Now where else would a Halfling live. Never mind I'll do it myself."

Daanaal shrugged off his Aunts anger; he went to the foyer and retrieved his weapons and the combat vest. Sitting back down at the table, he cleaned each gun and did a quick inventory of his ammo and other supplies.

Early the next morning the sound of hooves thundering through the village drew Daanaal out of his reverie. He'd spent the night planning the trip and teaching Giles some of the ins and outs of how to survive. The instruction wasn't strictly for Giles's benefit, it'd been a long time and the Mage was feeling a bit out of touch with his homeland.

Daanaal ran for the door only to find that Mara was already there. "What's happening," he asked breathlessly. Before the Harper could answer and loud explosion rocked Elf Home. The pair rushed out of the house in the direction of the sounds. Daanaal grabbed the P-90 almost as an after thought.

Any elves worst nightmare erupted; Fire ringed the Broken Wagon. Desperately the town members tried to quench the blaze before it reached the open forest and their homes. They were held at bay by five mounted rider wearing black cloaks. Darvon the bartender fought them as best he could but his magic was not really suited for combat so he did the best he could with an old sword.

The riders surrounded the old adventurer and kept him from rushing into the bar. The leader of the group drew an enormous sword and slashed at Darvon. Blood surged from Darvon's shoulder soaking his traveler's cloak with blood; he dropped to the ground to avid the follow up swing.

"Are you armed Aunt Mara," Daanaal yelled as he threw the assault weapon to his shoulder.

"My sword is with my pack," she confessed.

The P-90 spat out ten 5.7mm slugs dropping the first two riders, "Here, Don't say I never gave you anything," Daanaal said as he called the sword of life to hand.

Mara grabbed the long sword and it became nearly one with her hand. "Nice sword, Leave the leader alive, I have a sneaking suspicion that we may need to barter his away.

//easily done, Im on it Daanaal,// Giles began casting a spell. When the spell was completed he was pleasantly surprised with the results. //I shall have to thank Jacks for that one.//

Mara swept the sword along the horses leg and dumped the rider to the ground. There was no mercy in her eyes, nor did the rider expect any. She drove the sword into the mans guts and ripped his stomach open, spilling his entrail across the ground.

The last rider was dropped from the saddle with a single shot from Daanaal's assault weapon.

With the immediate danger over the towns fold took to the task of fighting the fire and treating the wounded. Daanaal collected the horses, which would come in very handy; the wounded horse was too badly wounded to be of use so he ended the poor things misery. The last thing he did was search the clothing of the leader and extracted a very small turtle from the folds.

Chapter 11

Standing there with Daa'naal, Mara inspected the remains of the Broken Wagon; there wasn't much left. The stench of burnt wood saturated the entire town and every time they moved the pair garnered even more hostile looks from the town folk. Mara didn't blame them for their attitudes; it had taken years for her to become immune to the way others, particularly humans, treated what was to the wood elves, a sacred thing. Underlying that tension was the belief that more outriders would be back to finish the destruction.

Daa'naal shook his head gently. "This is not good, not good at all.

"You're right there Daa. The humans have always coveted the Weldath. They want to cut the forest and clear the land for crops. It's only been the King of Tethyr that has held them in check this long. That family has given them other things to worry about."

A grin smirk played out on the Mage's face, "I've been gone too long," he confessed. "You'd think after all theses years something would change."

"It has… Tethyr is now ruled buy a council. The previous King left a bitter taste in the peoples mouths."

"Has the council changed it attitudes towards us?"

"Unlikely but its possible. The politics of Tethyr change so quickly that even the council has a hard time tracking them. One thing is certain though, the former king's family would do anything to regain power and they have never been friendly towards elves or any other nonhumans."

"Damn it, we don't have time for this."

"Make time Daa," Even if the council is standing by its agreement with us that doesn't mean that all is well. There are factions who could and would work behind the scenes." Their handwork is all too evident. We have to deal with this now," The Harper insisted. "If we up and go, leaving this unresolved that will leave Elf Home in an even worse position than when you arrived."

"All right we go to Tethyr." Darvon… Emily, Get ready to ride." Daa'naal dropped the P-90 on its sling and headed off.

"Daa, where the hell are you going Mara yelled at his backside."

Without turning, the mage answered his Aunt, "I'm going to say good bye to my Mother. She'd kill me if I just disappeared again."

"Smart boy" Mara said under her breath.

Meanwhile, back on PB2-908

SG-1 stood above the body of Ernest Littlefield. Jack's face was impassive, a thousand smart assed quips came to mind but for once he hated to admit that he'd been right, but the cost, a man's life, was too high a price to pay.

"Sam, can you prepare Doctor Littlefield so we can take him home with us please?"

"OF course sir."

"Daniel come with me," without another word Jack turned and walked away from the scene.

The pair, Jack and Daniel walked shoulder to shoulder in the narrow corridors. "Jack…" Daniel said a conciliatory tone to his voice.

"Daniel, what's done, is done, let's not dwell on it. Besides, I think you are going to want to see what we found." The colonel led Daniel into the room that was filled with books. He reached over to the closest stack, grabbing the book off the top. He dusted the tome off and to his surprised he found it was filled with scientific notations, all in English. He opened it up and began to read.

Jack stood there and watched Daniel read for a few minutes. He shook his head, amazed at how engrossed the young man could become in such a short time. He pointed over his shoulder, "I'll just…"

Right Jack, Daniel said without looking up from his book. :If you get a minute can you send Sam back here?" He waved his hand over the stack of notebooks, "I'm going to need a lot of help."

From the notebooks of Dr. Littlefield:

My first few weeks here in this place have led me to the greatest of discoveries and the lowest of emotions. Coming to this place and finding myself trapped here with no way to return I fell into a despair, the likes of which I have never felt before. The ring which I came through is there, but without a power source, nor any one to help me turn the ring there is no was that I can return to my home. Conversely, I have found ancients relics that would keep any archeologist busy for a lifetime. At the very least, I wont be bored

The first few weeks were hard. I've explored the local area, well at least as far as my feet will take me. I've found plants that are digestible by humans and I have found game trails that I hope will provide me with meat.

There are local ruins all over the place. At one point there must have been a thriving civilization here on this planet but everything they've left behind deepens the mystery. Homes were left open as if their owners expected to be back any minute. Places that I assume to be stores, left unlocked. That's where I found the books that I will use as my journal and hopefully I will find some clue in decoding the written languages on the wall in the other room.

Oddly enough I feel lonesome but not lonely. Catherine visits me and we discuss my finding every night. I realize that my last sentence sound insane, but I shan't worry about my sanity. That she is here, even if only in my own mind, provides me comfort. That is enough to sustain me.

The leader of the SG-1 team found Teal'c in the gate room with Dr. Littlefield's body. "Carter? He said as he entered the room. Daniel would like you to give him a hand. Seems the good doctor was a busy beaver, there are hundreds of notebooks in the other room.

"Colonel," The voice came from behind him. I need to speak with you sir." There was a look on Captain Carter's face, not only a look, but THE Look. The look that told Jack everything he needed to know, something was deadly wrong.

"What now Carter?"

It's the DHD sir." The dialing crystal is broken."

"Damnit, is there anything on this mission going right" the senior officer swore, "Why didn't we catch this in the first place?"

"The MALP showed the presence of the DHD sir; unfortunately from the angle we had we could only tell that it was present, not its condition."

Jack rubbed his face in frustration, "Options?"

"Without the crystal we have no way to power the gate." Sam's brow went up in thought, "But there's no immediate danger sir, I think our best bet would be to wait for SGC to try and contact us when we miss our check in."

"Agreed," Teal'c chipped in. "On the assumption that we may well be here for an extended period, I will scout around. There was obviously an advance civilization here at one time so there should be shelter nearby." The Big Jaffa left Sam and Jack alone.

Look Sam, do we have anything back home that will power the gate?"

"Currently no sir, but I'm sure that Merlin might have something in reserve. Hell sir all we need is one of the generators off one of the Hammerheads."

Ok you wait here, if anything happened I want to know about it immediately." Jack wandered out of the room.

Daniel's head popped up at the sound of jack entering the room. He set the book down. "Jack we need to get these notebooks back to SGC as soon as possible."

"Well it seems that it won't be that easy. The DHD isn't working and we have no power to operate it manually."

Jack you don't understand, from what I've read so far, Dr. Littlefield has discovered more about the Ancients than anyone," He handed the book over to jack and pointed out a specific passage "Look at this:"

From the Journal's of Dr. Littlefield

There were four distinct races. The Ancients themselves, The Nox, The Asguard and there one symbol that I can not interpret but from the context I have too assume that there was at least one more race.

Jack slammed the notebook down. "It's you that doest get it. I'll speak very slowly, the DHD is broken. We are trapped here and unless we find some thing, we are going to end up just like your precious Dr. Littlefield."

"Jack we've gotten out of worse before. I have to assume that we will find a way out of this."

"Sure and all we need is a portable generator that is capable of powering gate and the only place we will find that is on Avalon. I don't think Merlin is going to take a 'oh by the way' We need to borrow one of the generators from one of your ships. We promise to bring it back real soon."

"You might be surprised." Daniel smiled and explained Xander's standing orders to help out SGC when it didn't interfere with other operations. "So all we have to do is wait. Now help me start packing these things up."

Chapter 12

The trip between Elf Home and the Castle Tethyr took less than a ten-day, it took Daa'naal several hours to explain the complex calendar used on Toril to Giles. Under normal circumstances the trip was at least two ten-days and that only of fair weather prevailed; the circumstances were anything but normal. The Bard, Darvon, used a form of magic that would allow the horses to run day and night faster than they were normally capable.. The group rested once a day for a few hours while Darvon renewed the spell. The trip however wasn't without cost, As the days went by Darvon began to take on a sickly grey pallor from the strain, so it was a relief to everyone when the castle Tethyr arose in the distance.

The group dismounted at the gate of the castle and walked their horses into the walled city. Daa'naal noticing that Darvon was near the end his rope walked over to the older man. He clapped him on the shoulder, "Good work Darvon," he praised, "I was worried that this side trip would cost us a month or more. The Elf Mage raised his head and addressed the group. "We'll rest tonight and tackle the council when we've had a chance to rest and eat something."

The old Bard wiped the sweat off his bald brow. "That's the best news I've had in a long time."

Mara couldn't let that one slide, "Stop thinking with your stomach you old fart." She turned toward Daa'naal. :in case you hadn't noticed, we don't seem to be all that welcome here." Indeed the group was drawing stares from the passers by.

"Right," the mage exclaimed. The hostile looks were not lost on him. "Not the most welcoming city I've even visited, Any Ideas?"

A wry grin exploded on Mara's face. "Well there's always a long haul bar. I'm sure we can make do. Mind you it won't be as comfortable at the Broken Wagon. But it should suffice. Wait here a minute." Mara wandered off back towards the gate where she spoke to the guards in hushed tones for a few minutes. She smiled and shook both guard's hands and headed back to the group. "Two blocks over. It's a dive called The Lusty Wench." An evil grim filled her face, "I suppose you can guess their side business, seems the locals like to 'taste' the other side once in a while."

As the groups gathered the horses Darvon pulled Mara aside, "How much," he asked in a nearly silent whisper.

Mara glanced at her nephew assuring herself that he couldn't over hear her, "five coppers each. And cheap enough that we don't need to be telling Daa anything, you understand me?"

"Aye that I do! And by any chance is the owner in the same line if business as you are ?"

Both of them knew he wasn't referring to selling of beer and a good time, but he was asking, without asking of the Lust Wench was another cover for the Council of Harpers. Mara stood silent, not confirming nor denying her friend's suspicions.

"Maraenwe Taralome you are and underhanded and sneaky woman. There are times I wonder if your thumb knows what your fingers are doing," Darvon replied in an awe filled voice.

The Lusty Wench turned out to be pretty much as advertised. The room was filled with humans sitting around drinking ale and other more exotic refreshments as they waited for their turn with the stock and trade of the inn.

Almost immediately there was trouble. It caused a big enough still when three elves and one human wandered into what the human men thought as their territory but when they saw Emily the drew and erroneous conclusion. She hadn't even sat down at the corner table that Daa'naal had led them to when a queue of horny humans lined up.

Emily tried being polite at first. "I'm sorry sir but I am here as a customer myself."

"Now what would a pretty little thing like you be doing in a place like this if not to make a little coin?" the speaker was drunk. In normal circumstance the little half elf might have considered it but not only was he drunk but he reeked of horse dung and sweat.

"As I said, she replied, like you I have been on the road all day and night, so please find someone else."

The drunk Human didn't know when to take no for an answer. He leaned down and groped Emily's breasts. That was the final mistake. The half elf stood quickly and knees the offending human in the balls. She grabbed his head and gave him a forehead butt that would have done a professional wrestler proud. Emily let the body fall to the ground and waited, she's been in enough bar fights to know when one was about to take place.

"ENOUGH, "Daa'naal roared. The mage placed a compulsion n the crowd to listen to what he said behind the words. In the mean time Giles was casting a spell that would cause the crowd to ignore the strange group. It left the crowd wondering what had just happened. Slowly the Lusty Wench settled back into it normal quiet unrest, now ignoring the group of adventures.

A few minutes later the proprietor of the bar lead them to their rooms. As they walked down the hallway, Emily grinned at her friends, tossing a coin filled purse that she's lifted off of the drunken human during the fracas.

Daa'naal shook his head in amazement without saying a word. The look was enough.

"What," Emily exclaimed; "A girls got to stay in practice."

Daa'naal stood before the council of Tethyr. He was inwardly surprised on just how much they resembled the council of mages. Oh not the races but the attitudes. Daa'naal could see the silent interplay that went on between the members. Sitting in the middle of a long oak table, the leader was an older man. His long grey hair was feathered back and held in a long streaming ponytail. The man had been speaking for fifteen minutes the dull inflection of his voice bouncing off the rough cut granite that lined the room.

To the leaders right was a hawkish woman. She had the same predator's nose and gaze. She kept glancing at the council head with what Daa'naal could only describe as hostile intent. It was clear to the mage that he was going to step softly in her presence.

< The hell with that> Giles broke in. <They are bloody politicians; you handle them the same way you handle a rabid dog.>

<I wish it were that simple,> Daa'naal confessed, <But the fact is that my people have to live among them.>

<Then put the bloody fear of God into them.>

< I wish it were that simple> Daa'naal took two steps forward and addressed the council. "Ladies and gentleman, for those of you who don't know me, I am Master Mage Daa'naal, formerly of the Council of Mages. I've come before you on a matter of great importance. A ten-day ago Elf Home was attacked by a group of human."

"Excuse me for interrupting, but what has this to do with the council of Tethyr?" It was the hawk faced woman that asked the pointed question.

"if you allow me.. I'm sure that will become clear in just a few minutes." The woman sat there staring at Daa'naal with contempt but she didn't say a word. "Thank you," Daa'naal continued, for centuries Humans and Elves have shared the Weldath forest and have done so in relative peace."

That the old woman wouldn't let go: "Only because you and the dragons threatened a war of devastation on us if we logged the forest on our own lands." Venom and hatred filled her eyes and voice.

"That's right, and that threat remains," Daa'naal's voice had become like stone. "And that threat is still valid which is why I am here. This attack can be a simple misunderstanding or it can be a prelude to war"

The leader of the council cleared his voice with a loud cough, shutting down the murmuring that had begun the council. "Master Mage, as you well know, Tethyr has just emerged from a war of liberation from an oppressive ruler."

The hawked faced woman, her face red in rage slammed her silver cup down on the table. "You call it civil war… It was a revolution."

"Silence Darrella," The leader yelled, "Your presence here is only tolerated by the terms of the treaty. That can change." he turned back to Daa'naal, as I was saying, we have no taste for war but with your words you seem to want to incite one.

Daa'naal was laying a cleaver trap, "That is the furthest thing from my mind But kin of mine were killed and that calls for some action on our part wouldn't you do the same thing given the same circumstances?"

"I suppose we would, IF…" The leader paused; if We had proof who it was that attacked us. The old man rose from the table. He casually walked around the end of the table and stood toe to toe with Daa'naal, almost daring him to declare war. "Now master Mage, what proof do you offer us?"

"just this," "Daa'naal reached into the brown duster and pulled out a small creature. He handed the turtle over to the leader.

"THAT… The leader roared in laughter. "That is what you offer as proof. The humor faded from his face, "If that is your proof then we have nothing more to say."

<Now Giles,> Daa'naal snapped his fingers. The Turtle changed back into the leader of the force that attacked Elf Home. A gasp went out across the stone room. It was clear to everyone that the elves complaint was valid. The young man that stood before the leader showed a marked resemblance to Darrella.

"You…" The leader shouted. A resounding slap echoed across the room and a bright red hand appeared on the ex-turtles face. "Guards, Take this thing and his mother into custody." A new respect entered the leader's voice, "Mater Mage, let me apologize for my people. I assure you that there was no official involvement. What can the people of Tethyr do to make this right?"

Daa'naal let the excitement pass, "I'm sure something can be worked out.


The sound of the Stargate filled the room. Samantha Carter checked her watch, "Right on Time. Incoming wormhole Sir" she called over her shoulder."

Chapter 13


SG-1 gathered around the MALP. Jack took center stage and had Sam point the camera his way. "I hate this part," he confided in Teal'c."

"What part is that Jack," Daniel asked, "the part where we have to ask for help or the part where we may be trapped forever?"

"Don't start with me Daniel."

"Indeed, Daniel Jackson, but he has become very proficient at it."

"Very funny Teal'c, hey wait that was a joke… You made a joke."


"Teal'c there may be hope for you yet."

General Hammond's voice came through clearly on the radio, "Col O'Neill Report. You're overdue for check in."

"Well general there have been some," Jack glanced at Daniel, "Complications."

"Now why doesn't that surprise me"

"The good news is General we found doctor Littlefield. The bad news is he's dead sir."

"I'm truly sorry to hear that Col. Now when can we expect SG-1 back here on Earth?

"Well sir that the other complication. It seem that the control and power system of the gate is busted Sir."

"Excuse me Sir," Sam interrupted Jack, "General Hammond, we could dial the gate manually if we had a proper power supply."

"Major, is there anything here at SGC that would suffice?"

Sam's normally cherry smile faded away, "Unfortunately not Sir. However Doctor Jackson has a suggestion, but you may not like it much."

General Hammond was not pleased. He'd heard some of Daniel's lamebrain suggestions before and though they had always worked out in the past, it always made writing the after action reports an exercise in creative writing. "I'd like it even less if I were to lose my best SG team Major."

Jack's voice faded in from the background, "Better get a grip General, This one is a peace of work."

Daniel stepped forward, "Perhaps I better explain sir"

General Hammond stepped back into his office. He felt a little foolish and more than a little annoyed. Daniel's suggestion made perfect sense. It was the method of contacting Avalon that left a sour note in George's ear.

General Hammond picked up the red phone that was supposed to be a secure line to the president office and spoke into it, "Merlin this is General George Hammond of Stargate Command. SG-1 suggested that I contact you. We have an emergency and need your assistance."


Merlin's attention was immediately drawn to one of the secure phone lines that he constantly monitored. He ran a quick match on the Generals Hammonds voice. General Gorge Hammond was on a very short list of people that the Commander had approved contact with in an emergency. When the voice print identification came back as positive he did an acoustic scan to verify that the general was alone, only then did he speak. "How may I help you General Hammond?"

Even after Daniel told him what to expect, George was surprised that there was any other voice on that phone except the presidents. "I'll come straight to the point. SG-1 is trapped on an alien world. What they need is one of the power supplies from a Hammerhead."

"That would be complicated Sir."

George couldn't help but let his frustration show, "So would losing my best team. Listen we helped you out when you needed it, now its time to return the favor."

There was a half a second pause as Merlin redefined his conflict resolution protocols. "I'll have to clear it with the commander, but I still see serious problems it complying with your request. That kind of technology can't be turned over to an unknown power."

"Unknown!!!" George tried to rein in his frustration.

"General would you turn over control of the stargate to anyone else simply because they asked?"

"Well no."

"Then you understand my position. I am not saying that we cant help, I just want it understood why I am reluctant."

"A this point I don't care if you ship us the Energizer Bunny… I need these people back." George let out a breath that he didn't know he'd been holding, "We will do whatever you feel is necessary to maintain security. But please hurry…"

"Very well General, I will contact the Commander for his authorization. I will warn you though, that even if it is approved it will be at least 12 hours before the necessary equipment can be made available."

"I'm sure SG-1 can hold on that long. Contact me the second you know anything."


Xander was in the kitchen making himself a sandwich when the fold com sounded, filled the room. He grabbed the sandwich and headed for the living room. He grabbed a quick bite and opened the fold com, "Yes Merlin?

"Sorry to interrupt commander but we have a situation."

Xander wiped a little mustard off the corner of his mouth. "For once Merlin you've managed to catch me when I was doing absolutely nothing. What's up?"

The AI filled Xander in on the detail of SG-1's situation and the proposed solution."

"Wait a second, why can you just get the gate address from Hammond and rescue them from Avalon. That would seem to be the most logical solution."

Under normal circumstances I would agree commander. The stargate leaves a distinctive seismic signature and with the Russian trawlers that have been combing the islands around Avalon there's a risk that they might get a location that I can't hide."

"What does General Grey say?"

"I don't believe that I can repeat that language. The gist of the general's statement was that this was just what he needed one more fire to piss on, though he was a bit more emphatic about it."

"Xander let loose with a snicker. "I'll bet."

Xander consider the request, "Ok Merlin give them what they need. But I want it clear… we don't give they one more iota then we have too. General Hammond and the SG team are trustworthy but I wouldn't bet a dime that SCG hasn't been infiltrated by the NID, so I want the least possible exposure."

"And what do I tell General Grey?

"You can tell him that I can put this one out. Here's what I'd like you to do."


Kevin Griffin listened to Merlin… "You want me to what?"

"Was I being obtuse Captain Griffin?

"Obtuse… no, Out of your freaking mind possibly… Let me get this strait, you want my to fly an Orca into Colorado Springs, one of the most heavily defended pieces of sky in the US and deliver a generator to the SGC. Does that about cover it?"

"Relax Captain; we've got one of the Orca's fitted with a shift field. That and the cover story I have for you should reduce the risk to an acceptable level."

Cheyenne Mountain Complex

Kevin approached the entry to the complex a little apprehensive. Granted this was SGC so they should be used to strange things happening, but someone was sure to notice a Col walking up to the center in the middle of the night. <Oh well, at least I finally get a promotion.>

The uniform and the forged ID card got him past the entrance to Cheyenne Mountain, but the was only the very first hurdle.. He walked up to the security check point, "Colonel Griffin to see General Hammond."

The two security police on duty barred his way, There was little doubt in Kevin's mind that the pair of security goons would shoot him and his body would never be found if tried to don anything but what they said. "Identification please, sir."

"Of course," Kevin dug into his wallet and produced the ID that Merlin supplied. The SP scanned the ID and a file appeared on the computer monitor. The guard then motioned for Kevin to place his hand on the biometric scanner… thirty seconds that scan was completed successfully and the men physically relaxed a fraction. "Please wait here Sir, we'll contact the general."

Kevin wandered about the entryway. Not that there was all that much to see, the standard gray blue walls along with the generic aircraft photos that seemed to come with any Air force installation. He was careful not to wander too far out of the Security Police's vision.

A few minutes later he noticed a stocky bald man with a frown on his facing approaching from the direction of the elevators. Kevin put his best 'military face' on and went to meet the man. "General Hammond, General Merlin sends his regards. "I'm Kevin Griffin with special technical support command; I'm here to see what we can do about Colonel O'Neill's problem."

George's eyes went wide with surprise. He was familiar with every soul that had access to SGC clearance and he'd never seen this man in his life. General Hammond read the ribbons on the man's chest as if they were a book and he was impressed. Command wings were placed above the three rows of ribbons and if the ribbons were authentic then there was little doubt that the man had see some action. Secretly George had his doubts; he'd dealt with too many spooks in his career. Normally he'd have the man arrested, but the mention of Merlin's name sent a surge of hope through the worried Commander."

"Very well..: George collected a visitor's pass from the Security Police. "If you would follow me Colonel, we shall see what you can do to help."

The pair entered George's office and General Hammond slammed the door behind him. "Don't you know that impersonating an officer is a felony? I could have you arrested. Who the hell are you?"

A semiserious grin filled Kevin's face. "Pretty much who I said I was General, the medals are my own, only my rank is captain. Merlin thought this would make it a little easier on you. If you don't believe me pick up the phone, Merlin will confirm who I am and why I'm here."

Doubt still clouded George's thoughts, but who else would know to invoke Merlin's name. "Very well… Now I've made arrangements for a loading bay and a secure elevator so was can get the whatever down to the gate room, all you need to tell me is how much it weighs so I cane have some sort of lifting gear installed."

"I would love to do it that way sir, but my orders are minimum exposure. Only you and SG-1 are to even see the equipment that I've brought. Now if you have a map of the installation Merlin has figured a way to get it down there pretty quickly.

General Hammond unrolled the blue prints of Cheyenne Mountain. Kevin consulted his notes, "There, clear that corridor and we will come thought the old missile silo down to level 28. After that it's a walk in the park.

George was understandably curious, "Captain that's nearly 500 feet inside of the mountain, how the hell are you going to descend without some kind of lifting equipment?"

"You'll have to see it to believe it Sir. We'd best hurry I have less than 47 minutes before I have to launch or I lose my window."

"Attention all personnel, "This is General Hammond, All personnel to the medical facility immediately. This is not a drill." George turned to the command team of the control room, "That includes you folks as well; I'll take it from here."

The desk sergeant was understandably confused. "But sir we have a scheduled check in with SG-1 in less than ten minutes."

"I'm aware of that. Now go, that's an order."

Up on the surface, Kevin had moved the Orca a few miles and parked it where the hidden cover of the missile tube emerged from the mountain. He keyed the mic, "Anytime you're ready General."

"Acknowledged," George punched an old code into the mainframe and orders that should have been purged decades ago found that their pathways suddenly connected."

Back on the surface, the old seven ton concrete and steel cover slid back as if it were newly installed. "Gotta love good-old-american craftsmanship," Kevin muttered. He drew a breath and jumped down the tube. Twenty seconds later he was inside SGC. <Whew… that was the easy part.> Kevin thought to himself.

"Holy Mother of God…" George swore when the black combat armor of the Kine entered the Gate Room.

Chapter 14

Kevin trundled forward towards the stargate. It was only after he took the first step onto the ramp and the sound of collapsing metal did he even think that the armor might by just a bit heavy.

"God Damnit Captain, that's government property and just what the hell, is that thing anyway?"

Kevin keyed the external speakers, "Advance scout suit General. Sorry about the ramp sir."

"Son… you aren't half as sorry as your going to be. Stand down, I'm coming in there."

Kevin backed the suit off the ramp and slid the visor back so he could talk to the obviously upset General.

The general had worked up a pretty good mad by the time He entered the gate room. "What in the blue blazes do you think your doing? I was under the impression that your mission was to bring a power supply from a Hammerhead so we can bring SG-1 home."

"General Hammond, Sir. I'm sorry but I have my orders as well. Merlin decided that we couldn't spare one of the Hammerheads under any circumstances. Lord knows we lost enough of them last spring."

That reminder set George back a bit. He'd forgotten just who he was dealing with, "I understand that Captain." George's shoulders dropped a bit. "Ok how do you intend to bring my people home?"

"I wish I could be more specific sir, but the suit has enough power to energize that gate. I'll hook it up. Then SG-1 and I can dial the address and home we come." Kevin peeked back at the gate. "The bigger problem sir is getting this suit up that ramp."

George looks confused, "I'm afraid I don't follow."

"Well sir this thing is the local hanger queen, so all of its systems aren't at their best. I'm not sure I can trust the suit jets."

"Didn't you just fly that thing down the missile shaft?"

Kevin smiled and looked around the room. "Yes sir, it not the power, that's fine, it's the control systems that are infected with gremlins. General Hammond, by any chance are there some steel I-beams near by?"

"I suppose there are. We need a team to move them."

"Just point me in the right direction Sir. We only have 35 minutes left." General Hammond showed Kevin the storage room where they kept the emergence shelters and building materials and in just a few minutes of welding they had a crude ramp support in place.

"Better get this show on the road. Good luck son, bring my people home in one piece."


Sam quickly jumped back as the gate rings began to spin, "Incoming wormhole."

"It's about damn time. I'm sick of this place, I'm sick of this room and most of all I'm sick of Daniel's whining."

"The last chevron locked into place and the event horizon crashed into the room. Teal'c and Jack unconsciously aimed their weapons at the gate, both thinking the same thought, <Better safe than sorry.>

Jack was stunned for a second when the hulking black suit crossed over the gate. With less than half a second to make a decision and with the suit looking very much like Goa'uld armor jack squeezed the trigger of him P-90.

The high velocity slugs bounced off the armor and ricochet around the room. Teal'c seeing that O'Neil had attacked lent his staff weapon to the assault. The energy blasts were absorbed but managed to rock the suit slightly. When there was no counterattack from the black suit jack yelled, "CEASE FIRE."

Kevin slowly walked forward. He clicked the speakers back on, "Damn it Jack, don't you know that you should never shoot at triple A? Kevin changed the pitch of his voice, "I'm Luke Skywalker and I'm here to rescue you." He opened the face plate and let loose with a huge belly laugh.

Jack's P-90 dropped to his side and he hung his head, "Jesus Christ, everybody is a comedian. What the hell are you doing here Kevin?"

Kevin headed over toward the DHD as he spoke, "You know, I've asked myself that same question about a million times in the last 12 hours. Hammond contacted Merlin looking for a Hammerhead power supple. "Excuse me Major."

"Of course," Sam got out of the way rather then get trampled by the powered armor.

Kevin opened the utility belt of the suit and retrieved the patch cables that Merlin had issued him. He went to work steadily following the diagram that was being displayed on his suit monitor.

"Well Where's is it? Jack asked

Kevin continued working, "where's what Jack?

Jack threw his hands in the air, "What else, the power supply from a Hammerhead."

"You didn't rate one. C'mon Jack, you know as well as I do how hard up we are for equipment. What you see is what you get."

"Now wait one freaking minute. You're telling me that that will power a gate?'

"In a manner of speaking yes," Kevin made the last connection. He Then used the computer to dial Earths gate address "Better get your people ready to travel Jack." Kevin lay down in the suit and hit the emergence release latch. At the same time he over road all of the safety relays sending the suit into a programmed overload. "We have three minutes till gate activation and seven minutes before this thing goes supernova."

"Fuck," jack swore, He keyed the Mic on his combat vest, "DANIEL… get everything you need to the gate room, NOW. Teal'c you help him, you have two minutes after that knock him out and drag him in here. He turned toward Kevin who was now on his feet and heading for the gate. "You call this a rescue."

"Would you rather be stuck here for all time?

"Id rather have some warning, "One minute Teal'c."

"Sorry Jack but beggars cant be choosers."

Daniel and Teal'c entered the gate room, each of them weighed down by the journals of Dr. Littlefield. "What the hells going on Jack. We need more time to collect all of the books."

"Not my fault this time Daniel you have one minute and then," Jack waved his hands in the air, "Boom."

Daniel was desperate, he had just begun to realize what a treasure trove he'd found. "I need more time." The rest of his protest was lost as the gate opened.

"Teal'c move." The big Jaffa grabbed Daniel Jackson and drug him up the ramp by his collar then tossed the archeologist through the blue event horizon, then he stepped in right after him. In the back of the room Jack and Sam grabbed a handful of books and headed for the gate. Jack was the last to step through the gate. "Say goodbye to sunny PB2-908."


The black combat armor exploded with the force of a small nuclear weapon. It dropped whatever remained of the castle into the ocean below.

Chapter 15


The next few ten days were a blur to the adventuresome group. They alternated between long stretches in the saddle and even shorter nights of rest. All looked haggard and saddle worn but the additional strain of keeping the horses healthy, even with Daa'naal lending his magical energy, was a causing Darvon to look old before his age. It all came to a head just south of Baldur's gate.

Mara dismounted her horse feeling every last mile in her ass. It wasn't an unwelcome feel, in fact after the first few ten days the retired adventurer began to realize just how much she had been missing the open road.

She tied her horse onto a low hanging limb and a low pitched groan filled her sensitive elven ears. She knew that sound, knew it all too well indeed. "Darvon," she called out, "Are you alright?"

Darvon looked terrible. The pasty white cooler of his face had actually progressed to a faded gray and the bag below his eyes were dark black. "I'll be fine," he answered her, obviously lying. "I have to see to the horses."

"Sit down and rest old man. I'll look after the horses and Emily can take care of the camp for the night" Mara took the reigns of Darvon's horse and lashed them next to her own. The Harper led the tired old bard over to where rocks had been gathered in a circle, evidence that others had camped in this spot before. "Emily, gather some wood and see if you can find some fresh game," she bellow in a voice that expected to be obeyed.

"Yes Ma'am." The half elf disappeared into the forest.

With Darvon as comfortable as he could be Mara gathered twigs and kindling for a fire. She judged that the risk of an open fire was worth it given that Darvon needed something to elevate his spirits. The Harper pulled the old stick of flint and a steel rod from her pouch and in a very few seconds she had the pit glowing with flames. Then she turned toward her other problem.

Emily wandered around the woods, picking up loose firewood always keeping her eyes open for sighs of game. If she was lucky and the game wasn't, there would be rabbit in the pot tonight. She picked up a rusting in the woods off to her right. Thankfully she shared the sensitive hearing of her mother. She quietly laid the wood that she collected down and retrieved her sling and began her stalk.

She found the Master Mage studying the map she'd made back in Elf Home, "Daa, we need to talk."

Daa'naal raised his head at Mara's approach. "I agree." he turned back to the map. "The way I figure it we are not more than 500 miles from Castle Narwhal; another two weeks should do it."

The Harper was more than upset and Daa'naal's in attention. "Damn it Daa, if we keep up this pace we will be exactly nowhere in two weeks. Can't you see what's in front of your own nose?"

"I know what you're going to say."

"Do you. Do you really?" Daa there is no way we can keep up this pace. Darvon is half dead from keeping the horses healthy and even then, look at them… They've all lost weigh and their spirit is broken. Why if someone offered me these horses as replacements, Id swear he was cheating me even if he gave them to me for free…. Damn it Daa, we all need a break and that includes you."

"We don't have the time," Daa'naal insisted.

"Make the time son. Look what do you expect at Castle Narwhal?"

"Frankly I'm not sure."

"Well they sure aren't going to welcome us with herb tea and ale. So the best guess is that we have a fight waiting for us at the end of the road. Right now, this second, we couldn't fight two drunken Orcs and win. Damn it Daa, tired people make mistakes and right now, that's us."

Daa'naal's reply was lost when a scream erupted from the forest.

Emily followed the trail. When she saw movement in the underbrush she twirled her sling and let loose with a rock that should have killed the rabbit she was tracking. Instead of the dying scream of a rabbit, she heard a metallic clunking.

The small half elf froze in fear when a huge triangular head rose from above the bush. The thing rose ten feet above the thief and tilted its head down, inspecting the annoyance with its huge black eyes. Still frozen in fear, Emily did the only thing she could… "AHHHHHHHH."

"Do you mind? I'm trying to sleep here," The dragon said in a strange accent.

"But… but… but…" for all of her trying Emily couldn't make her lips work.

"It never fails. I just get comfortable and someone has to come along and cause trouble." The dragon noticed that Emily still hadn't moved, "Don't worry little girl, I'm not going to eat you. Elves give me terrible gas.

Mara and Daa'naal broke for the forest and the sound of the scream. //Giles.//

//I'm working on it.// Giles cast a simple location spell. //about 100 yards off to the right//

Daa'naal varied off in that direction with Mara close on his heels. When the pair got close Daa'naal called the sword of life to hand and tossed it to Mara, "Here" he said breathlessly, "You did fairly well with this before."

Mara caught the sword effortlessly on the run. When they came to the broken brush where Emily had gone through, Daa'naal drew the P-90 and drew a bead. "Clear a path," He called to Mara.

Once swipe of the enhance blade and there was a gaping hole in the bush. Mara dove through the hole and off to the left while Daa'naal dove through the right. He came to his feet with the P-90 up to his shoulder and the rifle was right on target; aimed right at the dragons left foot.

Mara did a little better. As she came out of her crouch the tip of the sword was pointed right at the soft underbelly of the Dragon.

"well… well… well… What have we here," The Dragon roared. His long neck tilted down and he stared Mara right in the eye, "well are you going to skewer me, or should we just stand here for a while. I have to warn you I just ate so it could be a while.

Mara lowered the sword and Daa'naal hissed at her, "Damn it Mara."

Mara set the tip of the sword on the ground, and then leaned on it a cocky smile on her face. "Put it away Daa, He's a friend." She looked the big green dragon in the eye, "We have history."

Daa'naal was reasonably upset, "History? What kind of history can you have with a dragon?"

The dragon swiveled his head back to Mara, "A little dense isn't he?"

"It comes with youth." She patted the dragon on the head, "Garratch and I are old friends."

"Only under protest, the dragon added, with a hint of humor in his pounding voice. "At the time you had me at a disadvantage."

Resignation filled Daa'naal's face as he lowered the assault weapon. "Now I'm really confused."

Both the Dragon and Mara broke out in laughter that shook the trees nearby. "It's very simple," Mara said. "I made him swear lifetime friendship."

"I should have eaten you… gas or no gas."

"You didn't have much of a choice now did you?"

The little game had gone too far and Daa'naal was annoyed beyond reason. "What the hell are you two talking about?"

"She stole my hoard," the big green dragon said indignantly.

"Like I said, it's simple. Garratch wanted his hoard back and I wanted to live."

The next ten day went by with the group camping in the same spot. The horses filled out on the lush greenery of the forest and the group ate well with the game Garratch provided them. Darvon slowly regained his health and his normally upbeat personality returned. Eventually even Daa'naal admitted that running into Garratch was the best thing that could have happened to the small band.

Chapter 16

Late at night on the last of the ten day, Daa'naal lay by the fire discussing the situation with his counterpart Giles. //I know I was pushing them hard, I didn't see any other options.//

//There are always options. We could have taken a boat up the coast.//

//Our detour to Tethyr killed that option. A boat would have had to go around The Race and the winds at this time of year are not all that favorable.//

//You could have used a transport spell. That would have gotten us closer with very little time expended.//

//True and it would also leave us vulnerable to anyone that can detect magic.//

//Its simple risk versus reward, you don't know that the spell would be detected.//

//But I have to assume it. If the mage had the power to send someone to Earth he or she would not only know that we've transported, but where. That would leave us very little time to react and we have no idea of his forces. I still think stealth is the best approach.//

The elven mage sighed out loud, "Giles I have this feeling deep in my bones that the longer we take the worse it going to be."

Garratch raised his head, "Talking to your self Mage, that's a bad sign."

Daa'naal raised himself up onto his elbows and looked in the dragon's direction. "You don't know the half of it. Usually I'm not the one talking but answering."

"Ahh," the dragon replied. "Well if that doesn't confuse me I guess nothing will. Perhaps it would help if you explained it to me and I can offer, well, a different viewpoint."

"I think that would be an excellent idea," Mara chipped in from across the fire.

"Can I second that?" Emily arose from her place where she'd been practicing a coin roll to keep her fingers nimble.

"Well Mage it seems and if you are outvoted." The dragon leaned so close that his breath caused Daa'naal to rear back.

"Damn Garratch, two words, Tic tac."

From the last point of the fire the final member chipped in, A long loud snore was Darvon's only comment. Mara reached over and knocked Darvon on the shoulder, "Wake up you old fool, we are bout to find what this is all about."

//Might as well tell them.// Giles added his vote.

That wasn't what Daa'naal was hoping to hear,//but how much?//

//what difference does it make. They deserve to know what they are facing and why.//

Daa'naal Sat up. He reached over to the pile of firewood that Emily had kept stacked and reached for a canteen. "Ok folks, you want a bedtime story, we might as well be comfortable. He mumbled a few words and the water in the canteen changed to a fine Elven ale. He passed the canteen around as he began his story, "Dragons and elves are not native to this world."

Several hours later, when Daa'naal got to the part where the small dragon was tortured to tell the same story the he'd just passed on; a loud growl filled the nearby trees as Garratch vented his considerable anger. "This bastard murdered a child," he roared again. The big green dragon leapt to his feet and took flight with a mighty sweep of his wings.

Rocks and loose debris pelted the group, "Get down," Mara screamed against the passing wind of Garratch's wings.

"What the hell is happing?" Darvon yelled as he hugged the ground.

"It's a dragon rage. Mara answered. She squinted her eyes and looked for Emily. The small half elf wasn't faring as well against the wind.

Pass after pass Garratch roared above the campsite. With each pass the roaring seemed to get louder.

Daa'naal managed to grab Emily and hold her down. "is there anything that we can do? "he screamed against the wind, "Magic perhaps.'

"Only if you want it to blow up in your face: There's nothing that can calm dragon rages. They have to burn themselves out.

//Well I can bloody well do something.// Giles recalled the shield spell. He cast the spell and an invisible wall was erected against the wind. It didn't stop the wind completely but it managed to keep the group from being beaten to death by the flying rocks and tree limbs.

"Well that's better." Daanaal dusted his clothes off and sat back down, "Ale anybody?"

Hours passed with Garratch flying above the camp and roaring his rage. It was only with the dawning of the new day that his uncontrolled rage passed. He landed with a thud near the group, " A child was murdered, one of my kin and its my duty to bring those who committed this sin to justice. I have but two questions," he stared Daa'naal in the eye. "This child, what kind of dragon was he?" His parents deserve to know his fate."

"A silver I believe."

"Very Well, continue up The Trade Way, when I have done that which needs to done, I will rejoin you."

Mara patted her friend on his scales, "Garratch you don't need to do this… it's not your battle."

"Ohh but it is. And he who killed my kin will wish he'd never been born." With that threat made, the green dragon leapt once again into the air and disappeared into the northeast.

The group left the familiar campsite that had been their temporary home. This time they took a more sedate pace. Two days later they rode into Baldur's gate.

"Ahh, civilization, Mara exclaimed as she headed for the Inn.

"Don't get too comfortable, we wont be here that long.

"Longer than you think lad, This is one of the greatest places for finding information, all you have to do is keep your ear to the ground and your purse open buying drinks.

The inn was not all that different than The Broken Wagon or The Lusty Wench. The names changed but the cast of characters remained the same, desperate people searching for something, mostly not knowing what.

The group found a table near the stage and settled in and ordered a hot meal. When the server came she set bowls in fron of each of them that held a thick stew then she tossed think loaves of bread on the table. "Will there be anything else ?"

Mara swallowed the stew down, "Lass is there any chance of using the stage tonight?"

"I can't see why not, last bard we had in here nearly destroyed the place with his lousy singing. I'll check with my father.

Mara glanced over at Darvon, "Do that please, we have a master Bard that would like to perform." Mara dug back into the meaty stew, ignoring the looks that both Darvon and Daa'naal were giving her.

She finished the bowl of stew quickly and wiped the bowl out with a slice of bread. "Damn if that wasn't the best meal I've had in a long while. The two men just sat there, their food untouched. "You would two relax and eat your dinner."

She raised her hand calling the server back over to the table. "Well?"

"Father wants to know if you'll accept a 50/50 split."

Mara considered that, "he covers the cost of our meals and he has a deal."

The waitress nodded over to the skinny man behind the bar and he nodded back.

"Well friends, time to make a little money."

She mounted the stand and dragged and old stool that was at the back. Sitting on the stool she addressed the crowd. "Good evening gentle beings, I'm Mara and I'm here to entertain you for the night. Now don't be cheap, every little bit helps."

Mara warmed up her voice by humming a haunting tune that really didn't have words, but with the depth of the music, it didn't need them. There were scattered applause at the end, she left the crowd feeling lonely which was why she'd done it, "Now how about something a little lighter?

The crowed murmured its approval. "Ok.. I see a lot of adventurers out there tonight so here a song we can all relate too. Well those of us who happen to be women." Mara shot to her feet and began to belt out a song.

"Don't ever love a fighter: He'll care more for his sword. And while he's out there fighting you're on the sidelines, bored. And even when you're snuggled close and have him in your arms He's much too bruised and tired to appreciate your charms."

After the first verse the crowd began clapping along with Mara. She aimed the next verse at Darvon.

"Don't ever love a bard, for he'll care more for his song. He'll often go a-roaming and won't take you along. And even when you've got him home beside you in your bed Your beauty makes him get up and write a song, instead!"

With a wicked grin on her face she sent this one went Daa'naal's way

"Don't ever love a scholar: he'll care more for a book. He'll leave you for a hist'ry without a second look. And even when you coax him with your most seductive air He goes on with his studies as if you were not there."

"Don't ever love a dwarf lord: he'll care more for his gold. While he's out late to seek it you're home alone and cold. And even when you turn his thoughts to lust for you, instead, You'll find he will not leave it--he brings the gold to bed!"

"Don't ever love a merchant, a sailor, or a thief; And 'specially not a peasant--they'll only cause you grief. They're all too busy working to give you the love you need. Their thoughts are always elsewhere: on wares, or ships, or seed."

"But if, despite these warnings, you take a fancy to A male of the species there's something you can do! A way I've found to ease the pain, and help you carry on: Enjoy him while you've got him--seek others when he's gone!"

{Words and music copyright © 1978 by Julia Howarth (West) used without permission}

The crowd jumped to its feet and the applause nearly bowled Mara over.. "Thank you very much, but that doesn't pay the bills. Remember Bards need to eat too.

The rest of the night Mara played the crowd like a violin. After each song the kept yelling for more and it wasn't until nearly dawn that, with her purse bulging with coins that the group left Baldur's Gate.

Chapter 17

Stargate command conference room

SG-1 sat there patiently waiting for General Hammond. They were joined by Kevin Griffin who was now dressed in a set of SG Utilities without patches. It had been somewhat of a shock to everyone that he'd come back thought the gate wearing a very thin body suit that left little to the imagination. He was regretting the necessity of leaving his uniform in the Orca when he donned the armor.

Jack started at Daniel and Kevin who sat side by side, "Boy am I glad I'm not the one that has to explain this to the general."

"That's not fair Jack, Daniel temporized,"It was worth the…"

"I swear Daniel if you say it was worth the risk one more time I'm going to shoot you myself." Jack leaned forward, "We lost a MALP. The ramp to the gate is going to have to be replaced," He glanced over to Kevin, "Thank you very much Captain Griffin. And what do we have to show for it… bubkiss… nada… zilch… zero."

"We get the point Jack. And I wouldn't say we got nothing. The note books alone are worth the cost and when we go back I expect them to be the Rosetta stone."

"Going back is no longer an option." General Hammond entered the conference room. "I just had the control team redial the address and it seems it is no longer reachable"

"Well there's a surprise," Jacks voice was filled with irony. "Evening General."

"Don't you mean Good morning Jack, its after 3 am. "

"Holy shit…" Kevin jumped to his feet, "Hate to rescue and run but I have a window and it closes in less than 15 minutes."

"Sit back down Captain," George ordered.

"But my window…"

"Has been extended… I'm not the commander of this installation for nothing." General Hammond's words and his body language left nothing for Kevin to argue with. "What in the hell did you think you were doing"

Kevin thought that over a bit. He didn't want to be disrespectful, "Saving your people, Sir."

"By blowing up the very find we were trying to explore?"

"By any means possible, Look General you called us for help. I'm sorry about what happened but it was the only way Merlin could come up with in the time frame we had."

"Very well captain, I can't say I'm happy with the method, but the results, well they speak for themselves. "Let's see what they cost us, Doctor Jackson if you will continue."

"As I was saying, I expect that Dr. Littlefield's journals to be the key that helps us decipher the four alien languages. An alien Rosetta stone"

Teal'c spoke up for the first time, "That is twice you've used that term Daniel Jackson, I am afraid that I do not recognize the reference."

It was Major Carter that answered Teal'c's question, "The Rosetta stone was the key that unlocked the mysteries of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Napoleon's troops discovered it in 1799 near the town of Rosetta in Lower Egypt, and it eventually made its way into the British Museum in London. It is a slab of black basalt dating from 196 BC, Inscribed by the ancient Egyptians with a royal decree praising their king Ptolemy V. The inscription is written on the stone three times, once in hieroglyphic, once in demotic, and once in Greek. Thomas Young, a British physicist, and Jean Francois Champollion, a French Egyptologist, collaborated to decipher the hieroglyphic and demotic texts by comparing them with the known Greek text."

Daniel finished her speech for her, "Which lead to our understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs and founded the science of Egyptology, Sorry Sam." Major Carter just smiled at Daniel's enthusiasm for his chosen field of study. "I believe that the same kind of breakthrough is possible here.

Jack had heard enough, "Fat lot of good that will do us considering that the place was destroyed"

"You know Jack; you can be a real pain in the ass. Do you really think that this is the only place we will encounter writings of the ancients? Even here on earth, the scrolls that Mr. Giles found are a point in case. These people spanned the universe, surely there will be others."

Jack threw his hand up in the air in frustration with Daniel Jackson, "Whatever."

"Ok people lets settle down, I have an after action report to write and you can bet your bottom dollar it will be scrutinized closely, lets get to work."

Garratch flew to the northeast for nearly 250 mile, navigating by sense alone; he landed in the Forest of the Wyrms to check on his hoard. Funding the camouflage cave, he wormed into the hidden entrance, thinking to himself that maybe it was time to find a new home; this one has gotten a bit small. He would never admit to himself that it was he that had changed in size.

The rapture of being rejoined with his gold wasn't enough to quench the rage he'd felt at the tragic death of the little silver dragon. Even the thought of it re-fired his rage.

Garratch had always known he was different. Even as a little wyrm he couldn't understand why his brothers and sisters had such a hatred for other kind of dragons. From a very early age he'd accepted a live and let live policy. It was fortunate that he was both the largest and smartest of his clutch. He refused to let any of his brethren bully the others. He'd found something that was lacking in most of the dragon breed, empathy.

That didn't mean that anyone could walk over him, quiet the opposite, when given a valid reason to fight he fought and killed with the same ruthless efficiency as the rest of his breed, what it meant was that he tried to find a way not to fight before hand. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes not.

"Bah… a dragon doesn't reflect on the past, but I can't help but wonder how the poor wyrm's parents have accepted his death. "I'm too bloody noble for my own good." With one last wallow in his hoard Garratch headed north towards The Silver Marches.

Garratch had a general idea where he was going. In the centuries of his life he roamed nearly the entire continent and the slivers had an affinity for Nether Mountains just south of the Silver Marches, but that still left a lot of territory for him to search. He was betting that the slivers would find him. He always found the slivers to be a bit stuffy, but they'd always kept their word and that was something that Garratch could respect.

True to his expectation he saw the silver reflections of light high above the cliffs where the river Rauvin cut thought the high mountains. "Well no time like the present." The large green dragon spread his wings, slowing himself down so he would be very visible. For several minutes He held his position with large slow movements of his wings, hovering directly above the river. "Not the sharpest dragons I've even met. HEY" he bellowed. his words echoing through the cliffs and canyons

Far below, Silver Dragons sunning themselves in the midday heat heard the challenge and leapt into the air, searching for the foolish intruder.

"Its about bloody time, I thought I was going to have to drop a rock or two." Garratch didn't move, he hovered in place and it was nearly his undoing. A sliver blur crashed in the green dragon and it sent him tumbling though the air.

"Arrrrrg," the big dragon growled as he righted himself, "Hold I have news of your kin."

Garratch's word went unheeded as the dragon that had attacked him was righting itself and coming around for another pass.

"The hell with this," Garratch swore to himself. He pulled his wings tightly against his body and fell like an arrow towards the gorge. The race between the pair became a matter of life or death. If the silver managed to catch the green before he had a chance to explain why he was there, the silver would tear him apart, <Like I'd let that happen,> Garratch thought in sheer hubris.

Falling at near equal speed, Garratch was the first to reach the coverage of the winding gorge, but that brought on its own problems. He popped open his wings and with the tendons and muscles straining against his own body weight he slowly pulled out of the dive, only to find himself facing a sheer wall of rock.

The big green flared his wings, catching as much wind as he could, while at the same time he rolled to the left. As the cliff face came closer and his speed dropped, He extended his back legs and with a mighty thrust of his legs he bounced off the wall, taking most of the shock on his legs.

"Whew, that was close." Twisting his long neck Garratch risked a glance back. The silver must have seen what had happened to Garratch for he was now circling above the narrow gorge waiting for Garratch to emerge.

"Well this is not good; if I try and get out he will dive on me from above." Garratch's eyes went wide with an idea. The dragon folded his wings again and plunged into the river below.

Garratch sunk to the bottom of the river relishing the water the way a child relishes their toys. He frolicked in the cool river, killing time. He knew that the silvers would post a sentry against the chance that he wasn't killed in the fall. Garratch didn't plan on giving them that much advantage.

The big green made his way up stream until he found a beach where he could emerge without taking flight. He stuck his head up and looked around, the beach seemed clear so he slowly walked onto the beach. Dripping water he headed toward the trail he found, only to be confronted by a clutch of baby silvers sunning themselves on the rocks above the beach. He was trapped.

Thinking quickly but moving slowly he lowered his body to the ground, presenting the smallest possible threat. "Children, he said in his softest voice, "Would you please go get your mother. I have news of a lost silver that I must impart."

The little silver dragons attacked the big green furiously. They swarmed the hulking dragon, biting his armor fruitlessly. Then they found Garratch's weakness, he was ticklish. The big green couldn't help himself, He laughed out loud in full voice. That made the babies tickle even harder and soon the whole pack of them were laughing and having a good time. All that stopped with a mighty Thud.

The children scampered off in every direction when their mother landed next to Garratch. Her ruby red eyes glanced around for her children and seeing that they were in no danger, took a chance, "Why are you here," she said in a booming voice, ready to attack at any second.

Garratch lowered himself even further into the sand. "My lady Silver, I bring sad news. One of your brethren, a very small silver dragon, murdered at the hands of an evil mage. I need to speak to the elders of your clan."

Dragons live a long time, silvers longer than most and their family ties are so close as to be a mystery to humans and the other races on Toril. This lady dragon remembered the story of the lost little silver very well; he was of the clutch before she was. A tear of grief dropped to the ground. She rose to her full height, her silver beard shinning in the midday sun, "If what you say is true, than you shall have your chance, but if it is false, there is nothing on this world that will save you from my mother's fury."

In very short order Garratch found himself surrounded by Silver dragons. It was clear from the looks on their faces and their glowing eyes that they weren't happy about letting the big green into their sanctuary, but the voice of the mother dragon was enough to grant him safety, for a time.

The home of the Silver Dragons was situated in a valley that expanded into a canyon that provided cover and plenty of room for them to sun themselves. The cave entrance was about half way up the cliff face concealed by brush that grew naturally.

"You fly right to the entrance. Any deviation and you will be killed," the lady dragon warned.

"Believe me I understand that fully." Garratch took flight and sailed through the opening. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he found that he was surrounded by more than a hundred Silver dragons. "Why do Let myself get talked into these things," he wondered as he headed for the main chamber.

With his wins folded back, a sure sign of submission for a dragon, Garratch walked into the center of the room. He paced around the rocky floor as the silvers settled in. When the cave was quieted down he began "Greeting proud Silvers, I am Garratch."

"We know who you are green." the largest silver the Garratch had ever seen raised its head from a hidden cove off to the side of the cave. What we don't know is why you would choose to commit suicide by invading our lands."

"If you know me than you also know that I bear no ill will to any that doesn't bear any for me. As to why I am here, well if you care little for your children then I have wasted my time."

A loud mummer ran though the crowd, especially through the female dragons. A silver wing went up into the air silencing the ruckus. "You dare to question how we feel about our own kin."

"Not at all, merely remind you." Garratch voice became much softer and gentler, "I bring the story of a lost silver, taken from you and used in the most vile manner. What I ask is that which in only in your rights as the kin of the murdered child, vengeance against the one that would flaunt this heinous crime. In exchange, all I ask is that you help my friends."

"Why should we help you?" The leader of the dragons leaned his head forward, "We are patient and will find this killer in our own time in our own way."

Garratch wasn't given a chance to answer. The walls of the cave shook, tumbling loose rock onto the floor beside Garratch. Mother shielded their children beneath their wings. A seam ripped open in one of the walls and a silvery liquid gas flowed through the crack. The gas started to gather in the middle of the room next to Garratch.

The cloud grew larger and larger until it nearly reached the ceiling of the cave and then it began to take the form of a silver dragon. "I am Tagatta, the first dragon to set foot and this world." The gas solidified into a silver dragon so large that it dwarfed the current leader of the Silvers. "You will help this green because it is your duty and your destiny. So I have said, SO IT WILL BE DONE."

Chapter 18

The group of adventurers plodded along the Trade Way with not a clue as to what Garratch was doing on their behalf, truth be told; none of them save Mara expected to see the dragon again, but the story of how Mara and Garratch became friends made for a good way to kill the hours as the horses ate up the miles towards Castle Narwhal."

"Now mind you this was many years ago, even before you were born Daa and I was just a young thing and Garratch, well he was a touch smaller back then. I'd gotten separated from my group after a vicious attack by a band of roving thieves."

"It had been sheer chance that it was my turn to drive the wagon when the attack came. There we were minding our own business following an old map that Martrise claimed would make us all rich beyond our every dream." Mara snorted, "I was so gullible in those days."

"The only warning we got was every animals in the forest started going crazy. That warning saved my life and it gave us all a chance to draw weapons and defend ourselves, but it did little good. Martrise was dead from a sword thrust in seconds and his partner didn't last much longer. The thieves were too many, 40 or 50 I estimated.

Emily, who was paying close attention to the story gasped, "What did you do?"

"Why I did the only sensible thing, I ran." Mara said that in such a serious tone that Daa'naal couldn't help the snicker that escaped is lips. Mara looked over at her nephew with a glare that would have dropped an elephant.

Daa'naal tried to look contrite "Sorry Aunt Mara, please continue."

"Don't let it happen again. Now where was I?"

Daa'naal just couldn't help himself, "Running."

Mara glared at him but didn't say a word, "Against my every instinct I drove the poor plow horses as hard as I could. They were throwing sweat like raindrops and still I drove them as harder. The ride became so chaotic that even I lost my sense of direction and became hopelessly lost. I must have ridden like that for hours; when there was no sign of pursuit I stopped the team hoping that I hadn't driven them to death. Let me tell you it was a close thing and truth be told I was at the end of my endurance too."

"That night I set up a very rough camp in the forest and was dead to the world. For the next three days we rested and the horses slowly regained their strength. Now the forgotten forest is a lonely place and I had taken to talking to the horses just to break the silence. "You girls behave yourselves now," I told them as I hobbled chestnut mare on the rump. "I'll be back in a few hours, hopefully with something better than squirrel to eat."

"Well I followed a game train down to a stream. There were plenty of signs that this was the local watering hole so I set up in a hide and waited… and waited… and waited. I sat in hide till my backside was sore and just as I was ready to move on; the prettiest buck you've ever seen wandered down to get himself a drink."

"Wasn't this story supposed to be about how you met Garratch?"

"Who's telling this story you or me?"

"Well," the mage trailed off, "I suspect I could…"

"You know you still aren't too big to paddle. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the prettiest buck you ever saw walked right into my sights. I let loose an arrow and scored a pretty good hit but he took off into the heavy brush."

"For the next hour I followed the blood trail when it disappeared into a heavy thicket. Well by that time I was hungry and more then that, I was mad that he'd made me work so hard. So with my sword drawn to strike the killing blow I jumped in after him and fell straight down a hole that was nearly fifteen feet deep."

Mara leaned forward in the saddle, "Let me tell you, what I found at the bottom of that hole would have made me rich for life and well beyond that."

Emily screeched in joy, "A dragon's hoard," She guessed.

"Absolutely, I was so excited that I forgot about my buck and ran all the way back to my camp." Mara leaned back in the saddle, "even with the wagon it took me two days to empty that cache of treasure and if I hadn't gotten greedy…"

"Too many trips to the well I take it."

"Garratch was waiting for me on the last trip and if he hadn't been busy eating my buck he would have killed me without a thought. As it was I had a slight advantage, he was half in his hole so he couldn't get to me."

"Weren't you scared?

"Terrified now if it had been anything but a green I would have run and taken my chances, but mother had always said that a green is as trustful as they come, so we made a deal. I got to live and a friend in the bargain and he got his hoard back."

"And of course your buck,' Darvon added.

Mara broke out laughing at Darvon's observation, "You know I never even thought about it." She went quiet for a few minutes; "All in all I think I got the better half of the deal."

For the next few days things went smoothly. The group rode 12 hours a day which was a pace that the horses could maintain with just a little support from Darvon and Daa'naal. They took turns telling stories and singing songs and it was the unanimous decision that Daa'naal was to remain silent during the sing along. Mara got to break that news to him.

She approached him one night after the other three had met. "Daa, I need to speak with you for just a bit. Now don't take this the wrong way, but the three of us have agreed that you have the worst singing voice on the entire planet. Must be a family trait on your father's side Lord knows you don't get it from your mother, she sings beautifully, you can't carry a tune in a burlap sack!"

"What are you saying?

"Daa… You're scaring the horses. We would all appreciate it if you would just clap along when we sing, ok? Mara patted his cheek, that's a good boy."

Trouble reared it ugly head like it always does, at the worst possible time. Storm clouds had been building all night. They had just left the camp site Thunder and lightening had kept the groups from resting well the previous night and the horses sensed the nervous energy and were jumpy as well. They had just rounded a bend in the road when the Trolls attacked.

Traveling the Trade Way had its dangers. The road went though a narrow channel with the Troll hills and the Trollbark forest on the west side and the The High Moor off to the east and northeast, Mara had been cautiously nervous since they had passed the Troll Claw a few days before. Trolls were relatively rare even in these parts but if there were a place where she should have expected an attack, this was it. She wasn't disappointed.

The big green trolls struck where the troll forest ran closest to the road. Trolls are not overly bright but they make up for it with size and bulk. Standing twelve tall, their legs are taller than the average man and the long extended arms could pull a young tree out of the ground, roots and all, which is how they trapped the group of travelers.

"Daa," Mara shouted in an excited voice, "Their behind us too."

"Daa'naal swiveled his head and saw the second group of monsters emerging from the forest, their dark green skin blending into the foliage behind them. Gods damn them, is there nothing that is going to be easy?" Daa'naal jerked his head back to the first group of trolls, "Mara he screamed, Assemble in the middle but stay on horseback, we need the mobility."

The smell of the Trolls had spooked the horses and Mara was fighting just to keep her seat as her mount jumped around trying to get away, "Tell that to the horses."

The trolls didn't give Daanaal any time to answer. He set the reins in his teeth, which truth be told he'd picked up from one of the John Wayne movies that Kevin loved so much, and drew the P-90 from under his duster.

The big black roan he was riding hit a full gallop after only a few steps and the sounds of crashing hooves was intermixed with the steady reports of the P-90 on full automatic. Groups of bullets smashed into the largest troll tearing away skin and muscle and staggering the creature but the sheer size of the beast defied even the high velocity rounds. Eventually the accumulated damaged dropped the monster to the road surface bleeding from a dozen open wounds.

//Yeehaw// Giles screamed into Daa'naal's mind, //That's one down.//

//Giles that won't hold him for long! The bastards regenerate at an incredible rate. I need something to slow them down.//

A high pitched scream broke Daa'naal's thought pattern, "Emily," he screamed as he rolled the big roan around like it was a barrel racer.

Daa'naal turned to see on of the Trolls tear the throat out of the small paint horse that Emily preferred. Blood gouted from the animal and it feel to the ground dying. The small half elf was down on the ground, pinned underneath her horse. She had a large knife in her hand but it was clear that it was more for her piece of mind then any true defense.

"Daa'naal kicked his horse hard, spurring the roan into even more speed, Daa'naal knew he would be too late, he was too far away. He raised the P-90 and sighted in the creatures head. He emptied the assault weapon and dropped to back into the assault rig, calling for the Sword of Life at the same time.

Mara saw Emily fall and she charged the troll from the opposite direction. Without considering the bullets from Daa'naal's weapon, she stood in the saddle at a full gallop with her old trusty sword in her hand. When she got to within ten feel the old Harper jumped, burying the sword down to the hilt in the back of the Troll, leaving Mara hanging on. With the Troll thrashing about it was all she could do to hold on to the leather covered sword handle.

Mara's bold attack bought Daa'naal just enough time. The long blade flashed in the morning light and the razor sharp edge sliced cleanly though the creature's neck. The force of the blow caused the body of the troll to twist as it fell. It landed on its back, trapping Mara between the body of Emile's horse and the troll. Emily screamed out in pain then went silent.

Daa'naal twisted in the saddle just in time to see his aunt nearly crushed and he screamed in frustration. At the far end of the clearing the first troll had risen and it motioned its brothers forward.

"God damn it Giles I need fire and I need it now." Daa, leapt from the horse and joined his aunt. He hit the dirt next to the body of the fallen troll and stood between the advancing trolls. His eyes, now wide in anger lo9cked in on the Troll that he thought he'd killed. He raised both hands and fireballs shot out like a missile from an F-16. "Take that you bastards."

The first fireball hit the Troll in the center of its body and it fell to the ground smoking but the loss of the leader didn't have any effect on the remaining monsters.

Daa'naal was joined by Darvon who tried to protect the mage's back as best he could, but he wasn't a fighter. "Lad, I hate to say this, he mumbled, but the numbers don't add up."

"I know, too many of them and not enough of us." There was a sad recognition of fate in Daa'naal's voice. He drew Giles's Detonics and added their firepower to the battle.

The next few minutes became a blur for the mage. He fired off fireballs as often as he dared witch combined with the pistols kept the majority of the beasts at bay, but there was always a few minutes between spells while Giles and Daa'naal recovered that gave the Trolls the opportunity to attack. Time began to take it toll, even worse than that it began to rain, making the battlefield tricky footing for the elven mage.

Bleeding from a dozen minor wounds from rocks that the Trolls had begun to throw at them and never given enough time to reload his guns and with his energy fading Daa'naal began to lose hope, that's when the dragons joined the fight.

Silver shapes darted in from the rain filled clouds. They swooped down on the trolls and each of them attacking with a subzero breath attack. The extreme cold froze the moisture in the blood of the trolls locking them in place.

With all the Trolls temporarily disabled, but healing fast the coup de gras was delivered. A golden Dragon swept down from the clouds and swept hell fire across all of the frozen trolls, exploding them like ticks off a dog.

Garratch landed next to the fallen troll that had Mara and Emily trapped. He lifted the body with ease and threw the headless troll back into the forest.

"Daa'naal wiped rainwater and blood from his eyes, "Boy do you have great timing." He stooped down and retrieved the stainless steel pistols from the mud and stuck them in his pockets to be cleaned and reloaded later. With his guns secured, he offered the dragon his hand, "Thanks."

A few hours later and with a campfire keeping them warm the group reassembled. Mara wasn't seriously hurt; she'd had the breath knocked out of her. Emily was a different story. It taken Darvon nearly and hour and most of his considerable skill to keep the little thief alive, one thing was sure, she would have to dropped off somewhere along the way to finish healing.

"Ok," Daanaal summarized the situation and their future plans, "I don't like it but we will have to take Emily to Daggerford." He turned to Mara, "You know someone there that can help?

Mara nodded, "Of course."

"Good, let's gather the horses and get started at first light."

"Umm, Daa'naal, I believe there might be a small problem." Garratch swept his upper arm over in the direction where the other dragons had gathered.

Sure enough, the dragons, deciding that they deserved a little snack after the battle, had eaten all of the horses; nothing remained but the bones, which the dragons were cracking to get at the marrow and using the bone splinters as toothpicks.

Chapter 19

The trip to Daggerford started with a fight. The dragons refused categorically refused to carry anyone on their backs, with the Silvers leading the rebellion, with the catch phrase, "Tagatta ordered us to help, not become beasts of burden." With that said, they all took wing and could be seen hovering high in the sky. Which in the long run served the purpose nearly as well as they drew the attention of a patrol from Daggerford.

The walled city of Daggerford was the largest city, if you wanted to used that term very loosely between Waterdeep and Soubar on The Trade Way. The town grew up in the shadow of Daggerford castle and its main reason for being was to supply the trains of goods that were headed for Waterdeep and to act as an outpost incase of war.

Built mainly of wood that had been harvested from the Misty Forest because it was close, the town had a very provincial feel to it and that's the way the people wanted it. Most of the people made a living selling services to the long haul teamsters, so the three bars in town did a brisk business as did the local blacksmith and cattle broker. The town also had the reputation for good goldsmiths, though they couldn't compete with the true masters in Waterdeep.

The largest building in town, even that was made of wood as was most of the town, The hall of Guilds glowed of candles burring bright and the Duke of Daggerford dismounted his horse and entered the ornate, by Daggerford standards anyway, meeting house.

"Milord Welcome." The council, wearing masks by long tradition, greeted the nominal ruler, when in fact it was the council itself that handled all of the local administration. "We have a concern that you should be appraised of and we seek to take action but require your consent."

The lofty and somewhat arrogant lord laid his sword down on the small table that was set in front of the council's long table. "If you speak of the dragons that have been sighted lately, I have already authorized expanded patrols of the roads and dammed if you didn't send me a bill."

"Milord, surly you can't expect us to pick up the costs incurred on your orders." Typically it was the local moneychanger that expressed the objection.

At the end of the council table a well dressed man, smelling all too much of dung and tanning acid slammed his hand on the table with a loud crash, "Enough… We can sit and talk about this all night and still it won't end the loss of my cattle and horses in the last ten-day I alone have lost more than seventy animals to these beasts, I can afford this better than most, but still it's a strain. The cost should be born by all of us equally."

"Agreed," said the Dwarf that this month sat as the leader of the hidden council. "Talking is counterproductive; here is what I propose…"

Over his very vocal objections the group would be led by Delfin Yellowknife a retired adventurer and mage, who had loudly objected to being drafted to the task. Instead he had offered several of his apprentices, but the Guild council insisted that by living in the town he owed it service when he was called upon.

Delfin mounted his horse and looked over his command, <Not too bad, could have been a lot worse.> he thought. <Good men and each has a serviceable blade thanks to Derval and the horses should serve nicely Indeed.> Daggerford had a tradition of military service for every able bodied resident and all were to be trained as if a war was just around the corner, which wasn't far from the truth. "Mount the men," he said to Sassy, one of the local boys serving as one of his apprentices.

New leather creaked as the order went out. The men mounted the best horses that could be assembled in a short time. Both the horses and the tack had been donated to the cause by Lars Tannersmith, with the proviso that they must all be returned in good order.

Daggerford wasn't a large town when compared to its closest rival Waterdeep, so a draft of twenty men was a large commitment from a population that numbered only around three hundred; nearly everyone had a relationship with someone who was going out to do battle with the feared dragons and the families were worried about them. The men shifted nervously in their saddles, energized with excitement; they wanted to get there and get the job done and come home again safely.

Daa'naal wasn't nearly as excited as the men of Daggerford. In fact if he knew they were on the way he would have sat down in the middle of the road and refused to move another inch. Dressed in an improvised harness that attached to a makeshift travois he'd been pulling Emily down the trade way for the last four days. Cursing the dragons every step of the way, he was exhausted.

Really Daa'naal only had himself to blame, both Darvon and Mara had offered to spell him during the journey but he had steadfastly refused believing that it was his fault that Emily had been injured. Mara had done her best to dissuade him from that belief but she was rejected out of hand by the mage.

It was a huge relief to the Elf when Garratch landed beside him during one of the frequent breaks. "Daa'naal, we have a lager group of armed men coming this way."

"It's about damn time," the mage swore as he stripped off the harness. "Get the dragons above the clouds and have them wait there." He turned to his aunt, "Mara get Emily off the road and watch her. Darvon you're with me."

"Wait a minute," the dragon protested, "You've been expecting this."

"Hell Yes, the way you dragons eat I knew it was only a matter of time before someone came looking for them and now with any luck we get to ride again. Ok get the dragons out of sight and I'll deal with the posse."

A few minutes later Delfin Yellowknife spied the small group on the ground in the middle of the road. Since leaving Daggerford the horse mounted men had seen the obvious signs of a recent dragon infestation. Large pile of scat littered the landscape. The group had gotten a good laugh at the expense of one of the younger members when he'd asked, "What's that god awful smell?"

Delfin wasn't above using humor to teach his apprentices, "Lad once you've smelled dragon shit you'll never forget it. Cautions lads, we seem to have a visitor," He said as he raised a clenched fist, stopping the group in the middle of the road. He cautiously eyed the tall elf that was boldly walking down the center of the Trade Way as if he had not a care in the world, little lone avoiding rampaging dragons. That's set Delfin's mind to wondering. He looked back at his men and shook his head. "God damn it," he bellowed, "Every last one of you mothers sons know better than to bunch up like that. Sassy get them spread out and have them keep their eyes skywards. I'll go see what the elf's story is." He kicked the horse's flanks and took off in a trot.

Watching the approaching horseman, Daa'naal stopped, waited and planned. He needed this mans help but sure as shit the soldier was going to ask questions that Daa'naal didn't want to answer. //Watch it Daa'naal that's an enchanted blade that the man is carrying.//

//He's a mage as well.//

//Be cautious.//

Delfin stopped ten yards away from the elf and cast a simple know alignment spell. He was more than a little surprised when he got nothing back; it was almost as if the spell had been absorbed completely. <Aye not that's a puzzle.> he thought to himself. "You're trespassing on the land of the Duke of Daggerford. Who are yea and state yer business."

Daa'naal went on the counterattack. "I wasn't aware that anyone could claim rights to trade routes. Be that as it may, we are a small group that suffered a troll attack and we are heading to Daggerford to help one of our numbers whose is badly injured."

Delfin stroked his chin, "hmm so the greenies are getting uppity again, I suppose the Duke will want to know that as well. Where's the rest of your group?"

"Hiding beyond the curve of the road, we didn't know who or what you were so a little caution was called for. Look we really need to get our friend to some sort of medical attention, Can you spare a few men to escort us to Daggerford?"

Delfin dismounted his horse. "I don't know who yea are lad, but we've reports of dragons about.

"Tell me about it." Giles couldn't help but snicker inside of Daa'naal's mind, "A day after the troll attack we lost all of our stock to them, went to bed one night, the next morning only a pile of bones were left."

"You're bloody lucky not to be keeping your horses company." Delfin considered what Daa'naal had said carefully. The elf was hiding something, that much he was sure about, but he had nothing solid with which to refuse him aid. He pulled off his riding glove and offered the Mage his hand, "Name's Delfin Yellowknife"


Delfin felt a flush of power when he took the elf's hand. <Bloody hell, no wonder my spell didn't work.> "Nice to meet lad. Now where can I find you're wounded, I have a few skills that just might help."

Daggerford, three days later;

Mara opened the door to the Lady Luck tavern, where she expected to find Darvon and Daa'naal. She'd just come from temple of Lathander where the priests had agreed to watch over Emily during her recovery for a fairly small sum, only three gold pieces. She looked around at the crowd searching for her companions.

"Welcome to The lady Luck, the bartender said, "I'm Owenden Orcslayer owner, operator and bouncer for The Lady Luck, what can I get you?"

Mara pulled out her purse and tossed a few copper pieces on the bar, "Stout for me," she then added two silvers to the stack, "and refresh the drink at the end of the bar." She leaned over to whisper in the bartender's ear, "you never know when Lady Tymora might get thirsty."

Mara was proving to the bartender and any other ears that might be listening that she wasn't a mark to be taken. By referring to the silver cup at the end of the bar that was reserved for the local goddess of adventurers, she proved that she'd been there before.

Owenden nodded in respect as he collected the coin, "If I might … a fitting tribute." Owenden left for just a minute while he drew the stout from a freshly tapped barrel. He set the tankard in front of Mara, "Is there anything else I might do for the lady?

Before she answered Mara lifted the tankard and gulped half of it down. She wiped her lips with her sleeve, "I'm looking for a couple of strangers, one's an elf that's unusually tall and the other is a human that is unusually fat. Both are probably drunk by now."

"ah the trouble makers."

"Oh Goddess, what did they do now?" Mara was rightfully concerned. The Lucky Lady wasn't like most of the bars and taverns that dotted the Trade Way. Unlike most of them, the Lady was favored by soldiers and retired adventures who, if they were riled, would just as soon shove a sword in your gullet as shake hands.

"Well nothing too bad yet, but they ruffled the feathers of a few of the regulars by swearing that there was treasure here in the bar. They even went so far as to bet ten gold pieces that they could find it in the few hours." Owenden looked at the ancient clock on the wall, "The have until noon to find something."

Mara downed the last of her drink and slammed the empty tankard on the bar. "Where are they?"

"Upstairs last I saw. Would you like another?"

"Perhaps in a bit, I've got to go rescue those fools before they hurt somebody."

"as drunk as they are, that's hardly likely."

"You don't know those two like I do; Stairway?

"In the back over to the left."


Mara shot to the top of the converted warehouse taking two steps at a time. She followed the sound of the crowed and sure enough she found Darvon and Daa'naal. Both were so obviously drunk that she could smell them from twenty feet away. They were surrounded by a group of ten men that were dogging their every step.

Daa'naal was stumbling around and singing… "Here treasure, treasure, treasure," and Darvon was following closely on his heels carrying the drinks, thankfully spilling more than he was consuming. Mara was ten feet away when Daa'naal fell to the ground, "Shhh," He whispered to the group that was following him, "I… I…I think…. I…," he slurred, "we closhh… berry… berry… closhh."

Mara hung her head in embarrassment as Daa'naal began to chatter away in a chant she didnt recognize. Smoke began to rise from the floorboards of the building and the crowed gasped. They'd heard legends of adventurers that had hidden treasure in the Lady Luck and never returned to reclaim it, but this was the first time anyone had even come close to finding something. Though their hard earned gold was on the line, they could cage drinks for years to come if they were present when the lost treasures were uncovered.

The crowed gasped in amazement when a long sword appeared out of the smoke. "I jusss nn.. knew I could fin it," Daa'naal was if anything even drunker than he'd been ten minutes ago. Darvon, the more sober of the two, or more accurately, the less drunk of the two turned to the crowd, "Pay up," he slurred.

The crowd's reaction to the find was silence, some of it was anger at losing the money, but mainly it was the fact that the two drunks were able to find anything. Reluctantly the leader of the crowed passed over the ten gold pieces.

Darvon's eyes glowed in excitement as he counted the gold over and over, only to have his face fall when Mara burst thought the crowd. "Give it back!"

"but… Mara…"

Mara took the gold from Darvon and returned it to the crowd. "Drinks are on these two drunken bastards," and a cheer went up from the group. Daa'naal and Darvon had secured themselves a place in the history of The Lady Luck by finding the Sword of Life, which had never been missing.

Chapter 20

The next afternoon Daa'naal sat one of the tables at the Lady Luck, slumped down in the chair, with the grayish pallor on his face that only the truly drunken can manage, he cringed every time someone would come over and slap him on the back like a long lost friend. He had no idea who these people were. He wasn't all that sure where he was. He vaguely remembered rigging the travois to be pulled by a horse and riding into town on the back of a man's horse, after that it all became a swirl of confusion. He'd begged Giles to explain what had happened but Giles refused to speak to him.

Owenden watched from the bar and he could empathize with what the elf was feeling. It wasn't all that long ago that he'd been on the glory road himself and he'd been dick down in the dirt a time or two. He reached under the bar and grabbed a dusty bottle that he'd saved from years ago. He popped the magical seal; the vile odor assaulted his nose nearly gagging the bartender. He poured a finger of the liquid in a heavy silver goblet.

Carrying the goblet at arms length and holding his nose Owenden place the glass in front of Daa'naal. "Go on Lad, it only hurts for a second and it will make you feel better."

Daa'naal got one good look at the bubbling green drink and his stomach rebelled. He fought his own gag reflex trying to keep whatever was in his stomach back.

//Drink it.// Giles demanded.

//No fucking way! I'd rather stay drunk.//

Giles left Daa'naal little choice, He remember the shooting demonstration back at Lara's home in England when Daa'naal had taken control of his body. Exerting all of the control he had, battling Daa'naal all the way, he forced the mage's quivering arm to lift the smoking drink to his lips.

The vile liquid coated Daa'naal's lips and tongue numbing them both. The thick fluid then rolled back against his throat and down his gullet. The hung over mage gagged but he held the drink down. A warm sensation began to flow though him, emanating from his stomach and radiating outward with each beat of his heart.

Daa'naal's head jumped off the table, his forehead covered in sweat. His body began to shake like a palsied led man's. The quivering got worse as he lost control of his own muscles and then with a visible flash of light coming from under his skin, everything stopped as he crashed back down on the table.

"Holy dragon balls, what the hell was that?"

Owenden looked at the still smoking cup, "I never really asked, but give it a few more minutes and you should be feeling a lot better."

Owenden was a man of his word, after asking the question Daa'naal found that the headache was diminishing and the queasy feeling in his stomach had lessened considerably. He stood up and the floor was no longer rocking like a boat at sea. "Thanks, I think." Spying Darvon stumbling down the stairs he added, "Leave the bottle."

The strangers that he'd rescued weighed heavily on Delfin Yellowknife's mind. He'd asked himself over and over again, "how the hell did they manage to survive." < With only a four person party, the troll attack alone should have wiped them out. Add that there were roving dragons, who thought elves were a tasty snack and they is just no way they should have been able to survive.> Delfin's curiosity got the better of him, "Sassy, I'm going over to the Lucky Lady."

Several hours, and a lot of moaning by Darvon later, the pair felt well enough to sit down with Mara to plot the next few steps. They had laid out the map and were discussing the best routs to take. Mara traced her finger along the River Delimbiyr, "I'd rather follow the river to the coast and them come up on the castle from the south."

Daanaal shock his head, "they are sure to have some sort of defensive positions incase of a sea attack."

"But that would have them looking off in the wrong direction," Mara countered.

"Give me a chance to explain my thinking. If we follow the road to the edge of the Ardep forest and then cut across."

"But that would leave us fifty miles to cross with no cover in sight."

"Forced march at night and you're forgetting our secret weapon." The group had agreed not to discuss the dragons while they were in Daggerford, which might cost them any goodwill they'd managed to build. "What I'm proposing is that we attack at dawn so they are looking into the rising sun; that could make the difference."

Mara considered Daa'naal's words, "Possibly, but I wish we knew more about the layout of the castle and the surrounding terrain."

"Ahem, a voice sounded behind them. "Well lassie, I wasn't meaning to be eavesdropping but perhaps I just might be able to help yer on that," Delfin Yellowknife stood behind the group with a worried look on his face. "I've been to the gods cursed place before." Delfin let lose with an involuntary shudder, "Dark things happening there, evil things. Perhaps I may be a assistance?"

Collectively the group looked like a group of kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar. "Ahh don't be like that now, when yore as old as I am you'll be able to smell a conspiracy from a mile away. I knew you were more than you seemed.

Daa'naal looked around to see if they'd been overheard, "Perhaps so, but this isn't the place to give out details."

"You're a cautious man Daa'naal, I like that, Let me offer my home and I'm sure you'll want to see what I have."

The group mad its way down through the dusty streets of Daggerford. Delfin lead them to a stairway mounted to the inner wall of the town. As Delfin climbed the first step he called to Daa'naal, "I've been meaning to ask you, how did you know that there was something to find in the Lucky Lady?"

Daa'naal grabbed the first rung, "You don't want to know." His answer was punctuated by laughter from his aunt.

"Sassy," Delfin bellow as he slammed the door behind his guests, "Bring me the map case, the black one mind you not the brown one. After thirty years of adventuring and being a pack rat by nature I have pretty detailed maps of just about anywhere."

The apprentice brought in the map case and a bottle of something unidentifiable. "Drink anyone?

Daa'naal and Darvon both shuddered, a movement that Delfin noticed with relish. "Ahh I understand lads, word is you put on quite a show last night. Well if yea don't mind I'll indulge meself just a bit." He poured a neon blue liquid into a glass and sipped on it slowly. The retired adventurer shuddered as the fiery liquid hit home. "Ahh, just the thing to get the blood flowing.

Delfin unrolled the parchment and blocked it open at each end with a matched pair of elven knives. I made theses about fifteen years ago when me and my mates made the mistake of thinking the castle abandoned. The castle proper is on the point of a cliff just above the sword coast. There's a sheer wall between it and the beach so they pretty much ignore that approach."

He turned to Mara, "Sorry lass but Daa'naal is right," he traced a knurled finger to the south of the castle, "There are barracks on the south side of the castle and some kind of storage and shipping facility there. They have, or had, about 100 men there."

Mara shrugged, "It was just an idea."

"True," Delfin conceded, and one that everyone that has tried to take the castle has had, it is the obvious approach."

"What about to the east and the north?"

Delfin didn't answer immediately; he leaned back and tossed the remains of his drink down. "Well lad before we go any further I have to ask meself why you would want to go there."

Daa'naal stumbled about for an answer that would mollify the old man but wouldn't give away their real reason. The answer came from Giles's extensive knowledge of movies, when you are a watcher you have a lot of time to kill waiting on your slayer and Giles was secretly addicted to old movies. Daa'naal grinned at Giles's suggestion. We're on a mission from god."

Delfin wasn't satisfied with that answer at all. "Get out here you… That's the oldest thing in the book. Now why are you really here?

"Sorry Delfin if I could say more, than I would, but the bottom line is that there is an object that Mystra want recovered. That's why we are here."

Delfin leaned back in his chair and scrutinized the trio. What he saw was a genuine concern on both Mara's and Darvon's faces and knowing people as he did, he believed that they believed. Daanaal was a mystery to him. Much like the spell that had failed, he could read the man at all and that left him cautious. "My House, my maps, my rules," He insisted.

Daa'naal was torn between complying and forcing Delfin via magic. He glanced over at Mara and Darvon. Darvon shook his no, implying that it wasn't worth the risk. Mara on the other hand simply shrugged her shoulders. Daa'naal leaned his head back and closed his eyes, "I'm being as honest with you as I can be, either trust us or not."

It was a coin toss that the group won "To the north is some sort of temple, I don't know who's, we didn't get that close." Delfin pulled the daggers out of the parchment map and tossed it in Daa'naal's direction, "It's yours… but I'm coming with you."

A week later found the expanded group in the desert east of Castle Narwhal. Delfin had proven a wise addition to the group. Without being asked too, he'd rounded up fresh horses to replace the ones the dragons had consumed after the battle with the trolls.

The group had ridden straight thought with the Darvon again refreshing the horses. They'd made the Ardep forest in four days and decided that a small delay would be worth the risk. It also raised the sticky question of the dragons. That came to a head the first night in the forest.

Delfin worked the kinks out. Four days constantly in the saddle would leave anyone sore in places, "I'm getting too old for this shit." He already brushed his horses down was cleaning the tack, when a spasm hit him. Raising his hands above his head, He stretched skywards working the knots out of his shoulders and back. As his hand came down he heard an odd sound in the forest, at the same time his face crinkled up in disgust as a terrible smell hit his nose.

The trees parted and a green dragon walked into the camp as if he owned it, "Good evening," It said as it passed Delfin.

"TOO ARMS, he bellowed as he ran back to his equipment to retrieve his battle axe. Delfin's face was knotted in fear, but you don't survive thirty years on the Glory Road without being able to overcome fear. He charged the beast with his axe held high, only to be confused when none of the rest of the party was taking any action at all. Mara sat by the fire adding small limbs to it. "Too arms lady before its too late."

Mara reacted to his words, just not the way he expected. She reached over and wrestled the battle axe away from Him. "Relax Delfin; there are a couple of things we haven't told you."

Delfin stopped in his tracks, he looked at Garratch then back to Mara, "You people are crazy do you know that?" He looked back at Garratch, "Totally and completely mad," He sat down, pulling a flask from his pocked and drew in a deep drought.

Three days later found Delfin squatting behind a bush near the Sword Coast staring at the Castle Narwhal wondering about his own sanity. Mara dropped to the sand next to him, "Only an hour to sunrise, Are you ready, she asked.

"I still don't get it. His plan sounds like suicide."

"Trust me its not, the dragons will open up the castle and keep the troops busy. We will enter the castle under cover of magic. We find the scrolls and get the hell out."

Delfin shook his head. "You're placing a lot of trust on his magical abilities."

"When this is over remind me to tell you about the council of mages and what happened there about 90 years ago."

The minutes passed slowly as the time to attack got closer. Each of the group checked their weapons, Giles and Daa'naal went over the spells that they would need and Darvon readied his medical supplies. The glow of false dawn had just begun to grow in the east when Daa'naal stood; He removed his duster and dropped it to the ground. Daanaal pulled each of the Detonics in turn, charging the slides and setting the safeties. He returned the big pistols to the shoulder holsters. "Its time, he slapped a fresh magazine into the P-90 and released the bolt, "Lets go," he said as he charged the castle.

The group approached the castle openly, that was part of Daa'naal's plan. He wanted for them to know that they were under attack. He also wanted them over confident, he succeeded on both accounts. Shouts went out across the wall of the castle as sentries spotted the intruders. In very short order arrows were being flung in their direction.

//Now Giles.//

Giles began one of Daa'naal's most powerful spells. The power of the spell flared out and the group faded from sight.

Chaos erupted from the castle. Men that had seen the intruders could no longer see them. A call went out and the main doors were locked with huge beams. A few seconds later, a sally port to the left of the main door opened and a squad of infantry went out in search of the group. They didn't notice that the sally port stayed open longer than it should have, they had other things to worry about.

From out of the sky a hoard of Dragons descended on the castle. They circled the stone city, raking the defenders with extreme cold and poisonous gas. The grand finaly was when a golden dragon stopped, hovering just above the main door with long slow strokes of its wings. It opened its mouth and burned the outer door to cinders. The battle of Narwhal Castle had begun.

Chapter 21

The solid wooden door slammed behind the invisible raiders. Daa'naal's plan called for a quick, down and dirty raid. Get in under the cover of the dragon attacks, find the scrolls and get the hell out of dodge. The fours of them had an idea of what they were looking for but didn't have a precise location. Hell they didn't even know the layout of the castle except for the most general idea. Delfin's maps showed the exterior layout fairly well but as he explained, "We never did get inside." That complicated the task considerable.

To complicate it even more, Giles couldn't sense the scrolls as he'd hoped he would be able to. Give the magical power the scrolls possessed they should have stood out in the mages mind like neon signs on a dark night. He started to say something to Daa'naal but the elven mage beat him to the punch, <It's probably an effect of the invisibility spell.>

<perhaps, but it worries me.>

<To tell you the truth… me too, but there's nothing we can do about it unless you want to be seen.>

<That's not an option, If I drop it there's no guarantee that I can rebuild it,> if anything Giles understated the problem. An invisibility spell was a fairly low level spell when applied to one person, but add a group; the difficulty rises buy a factor of 4. Add to that, Daa'naal planned to split the group into pairs to search for the scrolls and it went up exponentially, Giles was at the very limit of his potential, blanketing the castle with the spell, keeping the group unseen…

<Then we do it the hard way.>

<It's a goddamned big place to search.>

"Mara, you and Darvon take the ground floor, Daa'naal said when they found the main staircase, "Delfin and I will take the lower level.

"It's a good plan Lad… but let me add a little something to it if yea don mind." Delfin reached into his pouch and produced two amber colored crystals. He handed one of the crystals to Mara and explained their use, "These are gryphon tears; both shed from a dying gryphon, what one feels the other feels as well. If you find the scrolls, crush the crystal and the other crystal will change color letting us know to meet you back here.

Mara stuck the crystal in her pouch, "Got it. She embraced her nephew for a second and whispered in his ear, "Be careful Daa, I'd hate to be the one who has to tell your mother that you are gone again."

Daa'naal didn't trust himself to speak. He turned away from his companions to hide a tear welling in his eyes and gruffly said to Delfin, "Let's go."

Outside above the castle, the dragons continued to cause havoc. The five silvers had taken to circling the castle occasionally diving down on groups of defenders, blasting with horrid blasts of extreme cold.

The big golden dragon continued to rake the defenders with flame and added his claws and tail to the mix. He'd get in the middle of the groups that dared leave the castle and decimate them before they could organize a defense or make a run for safety.

Garratch was having a grand time; He'd taken a fancy to dropping boulders, which he found lying around on the west side of the castle, down on the structure causing the people of the castle to run. The boulders would crash against the quarried stone, splintering buildings and then go tumbling into the crowd. When Garratch got tired of that fun, he'd gas them again with chlorine gas and then go back to finding big rocks to drop on them.

The battle wasn't all one sided. Men on the wall had managed to bring the castle large crossbows into action. The enlarged version of the crossbow was specifically designed with dragons and other flying menaces in mind. Five men would wind the huge drawstring and a bolt, over six feet in length and eight inches in diameter, was loaded into the oversized weapon and then flung at the attackers.

This crude and clumsy defense proved effective. One of the bolts managed to find it target. One of the smaller silvers, a female who'd dropped just a little too close, caught one of the bolts through her wing membrane. She knew she was in trouble. She beat her wings rapidly against the wind trying to gain altitude but the damage was too great. She spiraled down and crashed against the desert floor.

The loss of their sister angered the remaining silvers. They abandoned their cautious attack and dove down on the castle in mass. Men were torn apart by the huge claws or picked up and carried aloft only to be dropped to the ground, splattering against the stone walls.

Daa'naal crept down the winding staircase with Delfin Yellowknife right on his heals. The pair moved cautiously as the stone stairs were poorly lit by sconces bolted to the rough stone walls. The flickering light gave Daa'naal, even with his elven night vision, barely enough light to see. Delfin was blind as a bat in the darkened hallway, so he held on to Daa'naal's shirt as they made their way down.

The confined spiraling stairway opened up into a large room that looked as if it had been cut from the planets crust. The forty by twenty room had an rock floor covered by and inch or two if dirt and there were places that Daa'naal could see where bare rock shown though.

Daa'naal silently looked around. On each side of the room were cell doors that were covered by magic resistant iron, holding in prisoners from the various races of Toril. Daa'naal signaled to Delfin to check the right side of the room. Neither man spoke to avoid giving away their location. The sad truth was that they weren't here to rescue anyone.

The mage advanced one the right side of the room inspecting every cell as he went. The close he got to the back of the room the more apprehensive he became. A tickling had started at the back of his neck when they'd walked into the room in the first place and every step closer only made it worse. It felt as if the hair on the back of his neck had become a brillo pad.

The closer he got to the door at the end of the room the worse he felt. What piqued his interest was the fact that if he were hiding something, then he might use a repulsion spell to keep it secure. Standing at the back of the room Daa'naal came across a heavy metal door made completely of iron. < Well that rules out magic>

//perhaps directly,// Giles chimed in, //but didn't Andy say the 5.7's were armor piercing?//

//Too much noise. It would give away where we are.//

//Not if we cast a silencing spell.//

Daa'naal gave that a microseconds thought, //can you do it and maintain the invisibility spell?//

//I believe so.//

//don't believe Giles, you can or you cant, we can't risk it otherwise.//

Giles hated to admit defeat but Daa'naal was right; they had no idea where Mara and Darvon were and even the slightest failure. A momentary flicker could cost them their lives. //If you put it that way no, I can't.//

//Then we try plan B.// Daa'naal's eyes closed as he drew upon the power of the sword at the basic level opening a connection, he spoke the spell in a wavering voice and sweat beaded on his forehead, rather that taking the power from Giles he drew it from his very life source.

The P-90 rang out with a staccato beat but all of the sound was dampened so the only sound heard were the casings softly raining onto the dirt floor.

Daa'naal kicked the iron door open and charged into the room.

The battle on the castle's walls had become untenable for the human defenders. They had to retreat in face of the dragon's rage. Any one foolish enough to stick his head up soon lost to the razor sharp talons to the dragon's, as dozens of bodies would attest to; if they could still talk. The dragons now roosted on the castle walls shrieking at the defenders.

Garratch found bigger and bigger boulders, heavy to challenge even his mighty strength and crack the foundations of the castle.

Mara and Darvon search the upper levels haphazardly due to the fact that they had to avoid the roving patrols that were fighting the dragons. They had already checked out the larger rooms, finding barracks for the soldiers that live there, an armory and of course the kitchen. Mara drug Darvon out of the kitchen before food started floating about and disappearing into thin air.

From the end of the hall a group of men, dressed differently then the soldiers that the pair had observed so far, gathered about a set of ornate doors, obviously waiting for something to happen. Mara signaled Darvon to follow them with a jerk of her head.

The door was opened from the inside and the group of men marched in as if they were facing a firing squad. Saying not a word to each other and with grim looks on their faces they sat down at a conference table.

From the back of the room another door opened and a man that carried power as if it were small change and dressed in very expensive robes. He looked around the room in disgust, "And you call yourselves Mage's." His fist slammed down on the heavy oak table, "I want these damned dragons driven off and I want it now…"

"Sir," said one of the men who was dressed better than the rest, "We can drive them off but it means calling for reinforcements from other places." There was a tremor of fear in his voice on the word places. Everyone knew why he was scared, the places he was referring to were the Nine Pits of Hell, they all also knew the cost of such assistance. "Very well Bradock," the mage waived his hand at the right side of the table, "Use those five. I'll be at the temple seeking other help."

A scuffle broke out as the apprentices subdued the five that were to be sacrificed.

Mara and Darvon looked at each other and mouthed the same words at the same time, "The Temple." They both turned for the door and slipped out without being noticed during the fight.

Daa'naal forced himself to enter the room which was even harder when he saw what it contained. On the walls there were torture devices of every description, some of them still in use. on the far wall there was a skeletal human bleeding from dozens of cuts, The blood oozed down his body and colleted in a pile of sand at his feet.

The Elven mage fought the contents of his stomach down as forced himself to go deeper into the room to help the man. Behind him the iron door slammed itself shut with a resounding clang.

A cold chill, colder than anything he'd ever felt before filled the room and clouds of ice crystals formed into the shape of a small dragon. "Do not fear me, the small dragon said in a voice that was but a shadow of it former glory. "I know why you are here and that which you seek is in the temple."

"But how…"

The dragon acted as if Daa'naal's words were lost in time. But be wary, even now help arrives from another plane." The small creature began to fade back into an ice cloud like shape "I have but one request." "Tell my family that I love them." With the last word the shape faded into nothingness and the ice fell to the floor.

Mara and Darvon carefully made their way back to the rendezvous point. It was harder this time as there were more and more soldiers running about the castle. Mara reached into her pouch and dropped the crystal to the floor and crushed it beneath her heel.

Outside the wind began to pick up. Slowly at first, sand started to blow against the castle walls. Faster and faster the wind drove against the walls, more and more sand floated in the air until there was no way for the battle to continue, the two sides couldn't even see each other, and still the sand grew… It grew until it was a towering wall, tossing the dragons about like kites.

Delfin and Daa'naal abandoned caution. They ran up the stairwell as quickly at they could. When Mara had stepped on the crystal it had exploded in Delfin's pocket and he'd yelled at Daa'naal. That left the mage torn. If they had stayed they could have saved some of the prisoners but Mystra's instructions were get the scrolls at any cost. They would comeback…


Khelben Arunson, the Archmage of Waterdeep and his wife, Laeral Silverhand, were lounging about their home in the small hours of the morning. It was a quiet time for the pair and they'd learned to take it for themselves, their duties as Chosen of Mystra combined with the day to day operation of a city of more than a million and a half being left them precious time together. The sat discussing business when Khelben went silent, his eyes rolled up into the back of his head. His wife had just risen to check on him went everything returned to normal. Khelben looked at his wife, did you feel it; something terrible has happened."

Castle Narwhal

The wall of sand turned blood red, blocking out the morning light and then exploded into millions of directions, falling to the desert floor reveling five demons from hell.

Chapter 22

The already deadly battlefield turned dead silent. The only sound was the high pitched sizzling of thousands of tons of sand settling back into place. The quiet and confusion didn't last long as the monsters from hell realized where they were and what had happened to the. The first, a spider, known as a Bebilith, was large as a Morgan horse with a span of its eight legs of over fourteen feet, attacked the nearest enemy, which turned out to be one of the castles defenders.

The giant spider shot out a thick mucus web out of its mandibles, ensnaring the armored man. With its front legs it pulled the man, who was screaming and digging into the sand in terror with in range of its eight inch fangs.

The injected poison barely had time to work when the Bebilith tore the hapless soldier in two and ate the two halves as if they were an appetizer. Its multiple eyes began searching for another victim.

Though its small wingspan nearly defied the possibility of flight, the second demon took too the air as soon as the sand cleared. It long sinuses neck with its oversized head at the end whipped back and forth. It spotted the dragons immediately and it went after the smallest silver. as it approached the target, anyone in their right mind would automatically place their money on the dragon, but the Nalfeshnee had a weapon most would never count on. When it got in range of the dragon it opened its vulture like beak and cut loose with a screech that would paralyze man or beast is fear.

The stunned dragon fell, the unearthly screech depriving him of even the ability to fly. The only thing that saved the small silver was instinct. He landed on the top of a cloud and only the special ability of silver dragons being able to park themselves on the whisper white vapor kept him from falling to his death. That how ever didn't save the beautiful creature.

The Nalfeshnee tore its beak into the wing root of the silver, tearing away armor plating, skin and tendons. The Dragon blasted the attacker with the intense cold that so had server so well in the battle with little effect. While the dragon battled against it, the Nalfeshnee add it its talons in to the battle. They raked against the silvers wings, tearing the fine membrane and ripping away a chunk of armor from it under belly. The vulture like creature forced its right hand talons into the soft underbelly of the dragon and grasped its heart with all the force it could muster.

The Silver knew that he was mortally wounded and in desperation it flailed its tail at the Nalfeshnee, stunning the creature for just a second. That gave the silver the opening it was seeking. The dragon wrapped it massive wingspan around the beast and blasted it full in the face with its paralyzing spray.

Fighting it's own instinct, the silver consciously erased the spell that allowed it to float with the clouds. It took the pair just a few seconds to plunge back onto the battle field and with a mighty thud, the dragon landed on its victim, crushing it under its weight.

Inside of the castle the two groups, Mara and Darvon from floor level and Daa'naal and Delfin from the dungeon, nearly crashed into each other as they all ran at full speed trying to get out of the castle. Mara leaning down, hands on her knees panted out a question, "Did you feel it?"

"Demon summing," Daa'naal answered breathlessly, "But where?"

"I don't know lad and to tell yea the truth, I'd like as not to find out."

Darvon, by far the worst of the group, was sweating and dragging in deep breaths, "Tem…. Tem,"

"It's ok Darvon," Mara patted him on the back. She turned to Daa'naal, "What he's trying to say is that the scrolls are in the…"

Daa'naal grabbed his aunt and Darvon and pulled them into the shelter of the stairwell. A dozen of the castle guards went rushing by. "Temple," Daa'naal finished for her, "We know. We had a visitor."

//We have bigger problems than that Daa'naal. I'm sensing at least five major demons nearby.//

//I know. How much longer can you keep up the invisibility spell?//

//Fifteen minutes, no longer and I wont be good for much after that, not for a while.//

"Damn it."

"What's wrong Daa?"

"No time, run while we talk," Daa'naal took off for the sally port that they'd entered through. "Giles can't hold the spell in check much longer and we are going to need magical support if we are facing demons."

Following closely on the mages heels, Delfin asked. "Who's Giles?"

"Sorry Delfin no time to explain, lets just say that he's our big gun. What it comes down to is that we can save him for a critical moment or we can try and bypass the whole shooting match and stay invisible."

"Isn't it better that we take our chance with the humans and save what magic we have?"

The foursome burst through the heavy door only to find chaos ruled the battlefield. Daa'naal quickly rethought his decision, //Giles?"//

//Save what we can, it's only a hundred yards to the temple.//

//Yea, but those are in the way."//

In addition to the Nalfeshnee and the Bebilith there were two Vrocks in the middle of the melee. The twin demons would have stood about eight feet high if they'd bother to stand up, but their favorite battle strategy was to float just above the heads of their opponents and strike from above.

The Vrocks were swooping down on the humans and slicing them open with their rear claws. The pair of monsters were surrounded by men but there didn't seem to be any fear in their eyes. In fact it was almost as if they were enjoying themselves in the battle and the pile of bodies testified to their effectiveness.

Daa'naal made the decision. //Giles drop the spell now.// He turned the party, "Mara you take drag while I cover the point. Delfin and Darvon, cover the sides. We move as a group and we do not, I repeat, we do not get separated.

The group readied their weapons and set off across the rough terrain. They were almost immediately challenged from a group of me that were running away from the demons. Daa'naal wasted no time. Rather than raise the P-90 from its combat sling he called the sword of life to hand.

The leader of the deserters knew his business. He been a soldier all of his life and he was only running because he was also a realist, demons versus humans lead to one thing and one thing only, dead humans. The group heading towards him was another story. He raised the large scimitar like sword over his head and screamed to his men, "ATTACK."

The two groups became intermixed, each facing off with an opponent, which left Daa'naal and Mara in a bad position, they each had two men facing them.

The clang of battle soon filled the small spot that Daa'naal had chosen to defend. Mara never gave her first challenger a chance, the crafty elf, dropped to her knees and swung her sword across the man's stomach when he over shot her, opening his bowls up. That move nearly cost Mara head in the process. The second man must have anticipated the move, because before she could roll out of the way, the second man's sword came down on her head.

"MARA," Garratch yelled in a booming voice.

Daa'naal had his own problems. The men he was facing were good, damn good. They never gave his a chance to catch his balance or draw another weapon. The first would slash at his head and just as he was blocking that thrust and readying a counter blow, the other would attack from an entirely different direction. The fast teamwork of the pair handicapped Daa'naal; he couldn't use the full power of the sword on either man effectively without opening himself up to a killing blow from the other.

Back and forth the trio went. Daa'naal would parry high and then sweep the long sword low and to the rear to avoiding the second attack. Finally the pair made a mistake; Giles warned him telepathically that the man behind him had slipped on the shifting sand. Daa'naal blocked the strike to his belly and with a quick flick of his hands he sent his opponents blade out of line. Daa'naal spun on the ball of hit foot, as he turned he notice that the second man was still down. On the swing back around he extended his arms. Blood splattered the elven mage as the Sword of Life cut through the man's neck like a saw blade through kindling.

In the background Delfin and Darvon had dispatched their opponents with relative ease. Delfin used the direct method of tossing one of the elven knives he carried in his boots. The ultra sharp blade cracked the man's ribcage and still had enough momentum to pierce the heart, killing him instantly.

Darvon on the other hand wasn't that lucky. Never one with blades, he's always gotten by with guile and humor, he had his hands full from the start, literally full, Of sand. The first sweep of the sword pinked Darvon across the chest, opening a painful wound. He jumped back and cried out. The man in front of him smiled revealing blackened teeth. The man knew he was facing no fighter and he forgot the first rule of sword play, kill first, talk later. He swished his sword in a crisscross pattern as if to intimidate the stricken bard, and then he lunged forward expecting an easy kill. What he got was a face full of sand.

Darvon, his arm protecting the wound on his chest dove forward taking the soldier down at the knees. Kneeing the bastard in the back to keep him immobilized he dug through his pouch and got his garrote out. It was fast work after that.

//Daa'naal WATCH OUT.// Giles tried to keep his eyes on everything but the sheer ferocity caught even him by surprise.

Giles's warning came just in the nick of time. The second man had finally risen from the sand; it was the leader of the group. He took a vicious cut at Daa'naal's exposed back. Daa'naal was in no position to act so he reacted; he dropped the sword and dove forward as the sharp scimitar sliced into the air above his head.

Daa'naal was reaching for the Detonics when a pair of black, furry legs, grabbed the other man and tossed him high into the air. The Bebilith had found another victim.

Daa'naal drew a bead on the evilly black eyes and he emptied the clip just as fast as he could, not caring about accuracy as much as wanting to put as many bullets into the demon as possible as fast as possible. As each bullet entered it tore away fur and skin and it left the Bebilith dripping black blood onto the desert sands.

A thick webbing shot out of the creature's mandibles, engulfing the now trapped mage. It was just about to drive its fangs into the hapless mage when it stopped dead in its tracks. Its eyes went wide and then a huge hole opened up in its lower body and the burning magnesium fell to the sand still burning, the Demon Killers that Giles had packed had done their job.

Chapter 23

Garratch saw the elven Harper fall. A rage overcame the dragon; a rage that cancelled reason, a rage that couldn't be satisfied without blood. The big green dragon's telescopic vision locked onto the man bearing the sword that struck his friend and the rest of the battle vanished for the dragon. He folded his wings against his body and dove down at a sever angle.

Mara lay on the ground; the flat of the sword had knocked her senseless and her vision was covered with blood that had seeped down her forehead. The crimson tinged color burned its way into her coconscious and she slowly began to recover. Unable to recognize the threat she wallowed around one the ground moaning.

The man stood above her and delivered a fatal blow… that is if it had landed. A roaring sound intermixed with an ear shrieking screech filled the sky and as the enemy's sword sliced down, it halted in mid stroke as its owners head was ripped from its shoulders.

Sand from the nearly supersonic passing of Garratch pelted the group as he headed skyward with the humans head still in his mouth. The killing of the man that had killed his friend hadn't cooled the rage one iota.

The dragon rolled in the air then spit the man's head out, letting it fall back onto the battle field. As Garratch reached the pinnacle of his climb he flapped his wind to hold position as he sighted the Vrocks down below. Changing direction, heading back earthwards, he locked in on the two minor demons.

Daa'naal was stuck. Not only was he stuck, he was mired in the sticky substance of the spider web. The webbing that the Bebilith had coated him with had begun to harden, trapping the mage leaving him immobile and vulnerable. He fought against the webbing as hard as he could but the sticky stuff left him frustrated.

The only open space was the slim triangle, formed between his hands and his chest, which the shooting stance left him. He dropped the now empty pistol to his chest and wormed his left hand behind his back. He was reaching for the knife that Faith had given him so long ago. He managed to get his fingers on it. Pinching his index finger, along with his second finger, he got a tenuous grip on the hefty blade and slid out of its sheath..

Daa'naal rolled onto one side and the custom knife dropped into his open hand. Bending his wrist to the point of pain, Daa'naal started hacking away at the webbing. A few minutes and a lot of blood from cuts on his wrists, he was free.

The battle had drifted away from the now diminished group. Daa'naal crawled over to where Mara had fallen. "How is she," he asked, plainly worried as the look on his face said in capital letters.

Mara was out cold and Darvon both hands glowing with the power of magic was treating her wounds the best he could, given the circumstances. The bard was lost to the battle until he won the fight for Mara life, either way it left Daa'naal and Giles on their own.

"I don't know." the bard replied, never taking his eyes off Mara and inwardly regretting having to waste the energy to answer Daa'naal's question.

Daa'naal gently rested his hand on the bard's shoulder, rendering him emotional support. "Do what you can. I have to find out what's been happening."

Delfin Yellowknife left the group without being noticed. He headed over toward where the groups of men were being harried by the two demonic Vrocks. He'd debated internally with himself as to the best course of action and in the long run he'd decided that the best he could contribute was to help defeat the two Vrocks. He justified his decision with the thoughts that Darvon was a better healer than he was and Daa'naal was a better mage so the best he could do was add his sword to the battle and reduce the threat as much as he could.

Daa'naal reluctantly stumbled off towards the temple. All around him, dead or dying, hundreds of men littered the sand that surrounded Castle Narwhal. Off in the distance he could see three dragons, lying on the ground unmoving. He squinted his eyes against the morning sun to see if Garratch was among the casualties. A screech high in the sky told him where the big green was.

Killing the man that killed his friend did nothing to appease Garratch's anger, if anything it left him feeling even madder than before. Carrying that feeling He went looming for something else to vent his rage on and the two Vrocks below seemed to be the perfect targets.

The Vrocks continued their methodical slaughter. The bodies of the human defenders had begun to pile up around them. Bodies of men, barely recognizable as such, lay shredded on the sand at the feet of the two minor demons, and they merrily added to the pile. That was about to change.

Garratch dove to the ground, his wings folded tightly against his body. When he was a few hundred feet above the crowd, his mighty winds flared out and curved themselves into the wind, stopping the big dragon. He let himself fall a short distance and gathered in the poison gas that his body accumulated naturally and blasted the pair below.

The cloud of chlorine gas swept over the group and the remaining men fell to the ground choking, the air in their lungs seemingly on fire.

The two Vrocks floated back to the ground wondering what had happened to their fun. Vrocks weren't the most intelligent of demons; they lived for two things, eating and battle. So other than their prey suddenly falling to the ground, they had no idea what had happened. They were impervious to the gas.

Which Garratch was aware of; He wanted the two for himself. Garratch finished his dive and he racked the two ugly demons with his claws, leaving deep gouges on their backs and as he climbed back into the air, his heavy tail knocked the two to the ground, the sheer weight of the dragon knocked the two nearly senseless.

Garratch grinned, a truly evil visage on a dragon, at the fate of the Vrocks. He wasn't quite done with them yet. He zoomed back over to the west side of the castle. <Hmm> he thought, <I've pretty well picked this side clean of anything decent.> He banked left and headed back toward Castle Narwhal.

The big green scattered the confused defenders with another cloud of Chlorine and dropped to his feet. Landing in the courtyard Garratch stood tall challenging anyone who dared face him. "Cowards," He bellowed as they ran away.

"Garratch duck," the echoing voice was unmistakable, it was the golden dragon.

Garratch knew the tactics that the gold preferred so he dropped his massive head to the ground and covered it with his wings. Fire washed over the green dragon, the flame missing his wings and body by inches. "Hey watch it…" but the protest went unheard by anyone. The gold was gone, heading back to altitude and the humans that were within the sound of his voice were now dying, their blackened corpses littering the square. "Oh well," Garratch muttered, "Better them than me."

He now searched the rubble, finding the biggest pair of rocks he could both find and carry. Off to the right, near the main gate were tow chunks of granite that were once a part of the castle wall. He grasped the chosen pair and struggled to get into the air.

As he climbed out, clearing the restricting walls of the castle, Garratch zoomed in on the pair of Vrocks who were now fighting between themselves, since all of the humans they'd been playing with were now dead. Garratch, never one to let opportunity to pass him by, shrieked out a battle cry and let loose with the chunks of stone.

The first rock took the smaller Vrock full on the chest knocking the demon onto the sand and pinning him there. It lay screaming in anger, unaware that it was bleeding a sickly green blood from its neck.

The second stone him the larger of the two Vrocks in the back of the head, knocking ass over end, tumbling across the sand. When it hit the ground and stooped tumbling it sat up, its eyes glazed over. He was more fortunate than his partner in that he was merely dazed, but not mortally wounded. Garratch was about to correct that oversight.

Garratch crashed into the sand next to the Vrock. The big dragon pinned the demon to the ground with a huge claw. He picked up the stone and began to lecture the demon. "WHEN," smack, the rock smashed into the creatures head, "Will…" Smack… "You"… smack…. "Ever"… smack "learn…" The dragon gave one more smack to the bloody pulp that had been the Vrock's head, "That you don't mess with Garratch's friends."

With the two Vrocks dispatched to the after life the battle field went silent. It was a victory for the good guys. Bodies lay everywhere. The two Vrocks and the Bebilith lay dead on the sand not further than ten feet where they had entered the world. Further off to the left and off in the sand dunes, the Nalfeshnee lay dead under the silver dragon. But the battle had not been with out cost, all of the silvers lay dead or dying. The gold was missing and Garratch could only guess at what had driven him off. Mara lay on the sand, <Mara, I'd better see to her> he thought. Then he spied the body of Delfin Yellowknife among the wounded.

The dragon landed among the bodies of the men that he'd gassed. Delfin was at the outer perimeter of that group and lay on the ground gasping for breath. The dragon picked up the man in his claws, displaying a gentleness that was defied by his size. "Don't worry little man I will help you."

An eerie red glow filled the dragons dinner plate sized eyes and the guttural sounds of the dragon's natural language filled the desert morning. "Garratch cast the counter spell that would neutralize his natural weapon.

A pulse of light nearly indescribable beauty shot out and struck Delfin in the chest. His body jerked upright and his eyes shot wide open as the spell began to take effect. The old man began shaking and foaming at the mouth. With a harsh shriek nearly town from his mouth, Delfin fell limp into Garratch's claw, but to Garratch's keen hearing his breathing was better.

Garratch laid the body of Delfin next to Mara and stared at the bard with saddened eyes. "How is she?"

"She's alive but I'll be dammed if I know why." The Bard threw his hand up into the air, "I've done what I can for her and it's in the hands of the gods now."

An idea crossed Garratch's mind, "Perhaps we can give the gods a hand. Delfin needs more than I can do and your magic will be of little use. We need to get them back to Daggerford."

Daa'naal's head popped up, "How long to get there?"

"Twenty minutes at my best speed."

//Daa'naal. We can bind them to Garratch with a spell and give Darvon a keyword to break the spell when they get there.//

That clinched it in the Mages mind. "Darvon you go with them."

"No," The bard insisted. "There is still one more demon out there and we still have to deal with the mage and collect the scrolls."

Daa'naal stood up. He reached into his duster and checked that both pistols were fully loaded. He went so far as to drop the magazines and added another round to top them off giving him a total of nine rounds per pistol. "That's my job," He said blandly. "Load Mara and Delfin onto Garratch," There was a steel in his voice the belied any argument that Darvon could have made.

Daa'naal them checked the P-90. He swapped the partially spent magazine for the last fully loaded one that he had. He clipped the weapon back onto the assault vest. "I'll join you in Daggerford as soon as I can."

"But," Darvon said weakly.

"Move it Bard."

A few minutes later, Daa'naal watched as Garratch and his cargo sped off into the morning sun.

//Giles can we invoke the invisibility spell again?//

//With just the two of us I believe we can.//

//Do it.// Daa'naal's tone was one of resignation. He knew the risks and he'd a pretty good idea of the out come, nevertheless, he faded into nothing ness and headed off to the temple.


Chapter 24

The temple was off to the North, away from the castle. The terrain between the two was broken scrub with hard packed dirt covered by a thin layer of sand. Even with the invisibility spell cranked up to the maximum, Daa'naal approached the temple carefully.

The castle was impressive even to an untrained observer, which Giles was not. The Temple reminded him of the architecture of the Romans. The Temple had seven pillars that had been cut from some native rock that resembled marble but had a rough texture, so rough, that with the nine steps being quarried from the same stone, Daa'naal could feel it dragging on his boots…

The Mage paused in front of the two ornate doors that were the entryway to the temple. He lowered his head and cast a simple spell. The spell was neither powerful nor complex; it was used to detect other magics in the general area and Daa'naal was rocked back on his heels when the spell came back, not with the information that he needed but multiplied to the point that even the magical resistance of the sword couldn't absorb it all.

// Jesus fucking Christ// Giles swore. //What the hell was that?//

// Big assed demon. Fifth circle maybe even higher, gods knows what else.//

//Is there any chance that he wont see us?//

//none at all I'm afraid. the real bitch is we have to go in there.

// I know// Giles conceded, //Doesn't mean I bloody well have to like it now does it.//

// Get ready//

The elven mage opened the door slowly and peeked in. Seeing nothing form his limited field of view he decided to beard the lion. He kicked the doors open and stepped into the opening of the temple. What he saw was enough to chill even his blood, at the front of the temple was a demon that even Giles, whose knowledge was nearly encyclopedic, didn't recognize. Worse than that, it was eating what looked like a human leg.

The demon was vaguely humanoid, only in that it had two legs, two arms and a center mounted head, after that it resembled nothing that the pair had ever seen. Its head mimicked a ape's with huge canines hanging over its mouth. Crouched over it was hard to guess how tall it was but even doubled over it was twice the height of the average man.

Daa'naal passed through the doorway and a feeling washed over him, a feeling he hadn't experienced since leaving Toril, it left him disorientated. The same feeling left Giles flat out confused; he'd never experienced a dead zone in the weave of magic. //Daa'naal//

// I know I feel it too.// Daa'naal barely got the last sentence out when he was hit in the side of the head with something from the alter. The blow staggered the mage and he fell to the dirty marble like floor

"Welcome," the black mage said, his voice cackling like a bad movie actor. The man descended the two steps that separated the raised alter from the rest of the temple. "As you can see, I've been expecting someone, someone who just might know how the cursed scrolls work."

Still dazed, Daa'naal could only lay there and moan. He tried calling the sword, and failed. Giles tried desperately to reconnect with the magic and failed.

The black mage hovered over the injured Daa'naal. "Now… You… Are… going…to… tell… me… what… I…… know." Each word was punctuated by the mage kicking Daa'naal in the ribs. By the third kick two of his ribs were broken, by the sixth pieces of bone had shattered and were very close to puncturing the elf's heart.

In his anger, the black mage spent too much of his attention on Daa'naal and not enough on controlling the demon he'd summoned, big mistake. A chunk of stone, that had once been a part of the alter; shattered the black mage's head and his lifeless body fell on top of Daa'naal.

"Puny humans," the demon gloated. He stooped over and recovered the scrolls from where they'd fallen. "My own master will have use of these."

Laying there broken, Daa'naal could do nothing. He watched as his mission failed. From the corner of his eye he noticed a shimmering light that looked familiar. He knew he should recognize it but the thought was buried under the pain of dying. It was the sound of a dragon's roar from outside that placed the object for Daa'naal, It was the small silver dragon that had died to start the whole bloody thing.

"Giles," he croaked through bloody lips.

//I see it.// despair filled every thought. Giles knew he had no right to even ask and to expect even a reply was beyond hope, still he had to try. With all of his remaining life force he beckoned across the room. "Help," he pleaded, "help or all of this had been for naught."

Family ties between dragons as so complex and intertwined that they cant even be expressed in any language other than dragon. Duty to ones family overruled all else. The small Dragon counted the cost of his immortal soul against all of dragon kind. He smiled at Giles, answering the call. In a brief burst of light so intense that for a micro second it outshone Toril's sun, the little dragon's soul went in search of one that could help.

Daa'naal's eyes closed and his head fell back onto the marble floor. He and Giles had done all that they could, the universe's fate lay in the hand of an infant dragon.

The demon tucked the scrolls into a belt at his waist and stalked over to the fallen pair. He unceremoniously picked up the dead mage and began to eat the remains. His mouth full of mage, he mumbled to Daa'naal, don't worry your next, I prefer my food live but this one will do for a start

Seconds, or perhaps eons later, depending on your time reference, a sonic boom, the loudest noise even heard on toril crashed through the morning skies. A celestial dragon, the rarest of the breed and the only one of its kind to have been around when the universe was created flashed into existence high above the temple. He'd listened to the small one's plea and considered the threat. He remembered the ancient one's and he could recall that they had been kind to him whenever their paths had crossed. That memory, millions of years old, was the grain of sand that tipped the scales in the balance.

The demon was reaching for its last snack when the floor of the temple began to shake knocking it off balance. Then before it could recover, the entire roof was ripped off the temple exposing a creature so large that even the demon couldn't believe that it could exists. The demon roared at the intruder but it was like a kitten challenging a lion.

The Celestial dragon's eyes took on an eerie blue glow. Then a beam of intense light shot out, completely atomizing the demon. The only thing left was The Seven Scrolls of Anschlock that floated to the floor unharmed.

"Thank you," Daa'naal muttered as he fell into the weary blackness of death.

Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain Colorado

Doctor Daniel Jackson sat at his desk. His eyes were weary and he was bone tired. He'd existed on very little sleep for the last few months because the notebooks of Ernest Littlefield had occupied his ever off duty second he could find. He was finally ready to issue a final report to General Hammond, though the results could have far reaching implications. Daniel was half tempted to lie, but only half.

In conclusion, he typed slowly. Human history will have to be rewritten. Human as we know them today are merely the latest in a long line of… Daniel hastily blanked that out. Modern human are the remnants of galaxy spanning race that once had an empire larger that known space today.

Their technology, including the Stargate far exceeded what we or even the Goa'uld have access or knowledge of. We are salvaging the refuse of a once great race. Daniel took a deep breath. There is evidence of much greater technology out there, including gates that are set in space and ships that will fit though them. We haven't even scratched the surface of their achievements.

Personal note to General Hammond, Sir I hesitate to include this in the official report but there is a passage that is out of line with everything else. 'Beware those that sleep.' I'll keep searching and we can discuss weather to leave this in the report.

Daniel hastily clicked the print button before he changed his mind.

Chapter 25

Giles shifted his body slowly. His eyes popped wide open when he realized that he again had a body. He raised his head and found himself on a bed, no more than 6 inches off the floor and covered in sheep's skin. He rolled over onto the floor and tried to stand up.

"Please wait," the voice came from a beautiful woman whose only oddity was a strangely metallic tone to her voice and of course the fact that she was covered in pure gold. "My master had left instructions that he be notified when you awake." She glided over to Giles in a dancer's easy glide. "My master will be with you shortly he is at the forge and will join us when he can. Is there anything I might do that will make you more comfortable?"

"No thank you," Giles answered reflexively. "Where am I?"

"Why you're at the home of my master,"

Giles shook his head at the answer, non-answer, "And who would your master be?"

Before the automaton could reply to the question a golden chariot rolled into the room. "I am her master and maker." The speaker was a giant among men. He had a full beard that was blacker then the darkest night. and his skin was the color of a well cooked turkey. He rose carefully from the chariot, limping over to where Giles still sat on the floor.

Giles could sense a deep intelligence in the man and he had his own suspicions on who the man was. "Hephaestus?"

"That's one of the names I am known by on your world, never cared for that one. The Greeks always were so full of themselves. Now the Romans, they were my kind of folks.

With Giles's suspiscions confirmed he fell silent for a few seconds. When he could speak, "Then this would be…"

"Vulcan's forge of course, isn't that where you wanted to go in the first place?"

Giles shot to his feet. "Of course." he exclaimed, "The scrolls." With the words barely out of his mouth he noticed another glaring oddity. He reached into his mind, //Daa'naal// only an eerie silence answered his call.

"I'm afraid your friend is gone."

Giles's head and shoulders drooped in remorse. Then in a defiant tone He called for the Sword of Life which instantly appeared in his hand. "How can he be gone? I can still call the sword and his soul drove it.?"

Vulcan limped forward. "No one can take that weapon away from you unless you allow it, not even I. That's how I designed it," a morose tone entered Vulcan's timber, "It was necessary at the time, but that time had passed, Daa'naal served his purpose and has moved on. You still carry a part of him with you as will any who bear the sword in the future."

Giles stood mute.

"You really don't understand do you. That weapon was created for a specific purpose and its time has passed as well. What I need is for you to return the sword to its rightfull owner."

"And who would that be?"

Vulcan looked at Giles as if he were a child, "Why me of course."

Anger flared in Giles's eyes. "I can't… no fucking way; I still have to deal with the Dark Elf," a sigh escaped his lips,"With or without Daa'naal."

"Mister Giles, be reasonable. Others in your group now have the power to curtail the threat of the Dark Elf. I can't take that weapon from you physically but I do however have other methods. There are things you care about in this world and I'm sure you will do as I ask when you realize it." Vulcan pulled out the scrolls, "These for instance, they have to be destroyed in MY Forge. Are you willing to allow them back onto the field of battle?"

Giles's intellect battled his emotions. Part wanted to strike out at the god and take the scrolls back but the other part knew that invoking the wrath of the gods could doom the Kine. The anger in his eyes faded to a dull grey.

Vulcan recognized the look of acceptance and offered Giles his hand. "It is all for the better, Trust me I know."

Giles handed the sword over to the god butt first, "You realize if you are wrong you've just doomed all of my people to a living hell. The Dark Elf will stop at nothing to get back to this world.

Vulcan's gaze went blank for a second, "Yes I see that possibility still exists, however a old lover of mine still visits your world on occasion, if it becomes necessary she will bring you to me." THAT is as far as I'm willing to go."

"A friend of a Greek god visits earth."

Giles totally confused tone amused the God, "My ex wife actually. But we still get along. Now come with me."

Vulcan lead Giles over to the chariot. The pair mounted the vehicle which began moving with out any sign of a power source or any method of controlling its path. They rode down a long hall for what seemed like hours. The pair said nothing and it was all that Giles could do not to gawk at the extensive collection of weapons that lined the entire hallway. He muttered under his breath, "Andy would die to see this."

"He won't have to," Vulcan answered the unasked Question.

"What was that?" Giles said.

Andy won't have to die, His life will extend long enough that he will probably see most of theses weapons in use. He'll have created some of them. I see we are here."

The chariot entered a cavern that glowed red hot from the fires of the forge. Six more golden automatons tended the fire. The boiling surface of flame looked like the surface of the sun held in a earthen kettle that was nearly the size of a crater.

"Don't worry Mr. Giles. Lady Mystra informed me of how the scrolls must be destroyed. Iv protected you from the heat." The Greek god handed the seven scrolls over to the Kine Mage,"There, dump those in the forge and your task is completed.

Giles stepped forward and in an anticlimactic second tossed the Seven Scrolls of Anschlock into the forge and watch them as they burned to a cinder. He turned to walk away but Vulcan stopped him. "I know that was a difficult choice, but no good deed goes unrewarded watch."

Vulcan waived his hand over the forge and the boiling liquid was replaced with a scene. It was a forest at night and a group of adventures sat in front of a fire cooking their dinner and laughing among themselves. For a split second one of the members looked up and her face was highlighted by the fire.

"BUFFY" Giles yelled and then his world went black.


In the realm of the gods anything is possible, so none of the assembled deities showed the least surprise when the group which consisted of Mystra, Vulcan, Aphrodite and the Voice of God were joined by a large platinum dragon. Even Mystra bowed in respect to Bahamut, the lord god of the dragons. "Welcome, she in tone gracefully, what brings you among us?"

"I would have word with you." The dragon's head swiveled and it stared the goddess of magic in the eye. "Your game has cost me one of my own and I am not well pleased with it."

The voice of God stepped forward. He faced Mystra and held his hand up in a stopping motion, "Please." The voice then turned and confronted the Dragon God, "It wasn't like we had much choice. Your little one chose as he willed. There was no coercion on our part."

"He was but a child whom you took advantage of, I would have justice in his name."

The voice turned back to Mystra, "Is he always this dense," tactfully the Goddess of magic didn't not answer, "Oh very well. It is done. Now can we get back to the drinking the Tequila?"

The Nether Mountains

The lady silver dragon waited and watched. He clutch should hatch any day now and she had become anxious about the whole event. It wasn't her first clutch nor even her fifth, but each time it was the same, worry and wonder. The lady dragon turned her head away for just a second and when she turned back, instead of 6 eggs she had 7. The little wyrms didn't give her any time to worry about the discrepancy in the count as they chose just that minute to begin hatching.

It was several days later when she finally had a moments rest to wonder about the extra egg. She called the brood over to her and sniffed each one. There was no doubt that they were all hers. The mystery continued to confound the Lady Dragon for many years to come.

Xander's Mansion

The fold com lying on the headboard of Xander's bed began screaming for his attention. "Alert… Alert, we have a local ley line fluxualtion.

"I'm up… I'm up," Xander answered quickly but it was apparent to anyone listening it was reflex not actual consciousness.

"Commander, I have located a lay line flux in your general vicinity."

Xander was a little more awake than before, "The Hellmouth?"

"Negative," Merlin replied, "It's much closer than that. It is on the estate somewhere."

"Right" Xander quickly donned a pair of sweatpants. He grabbed Elan and stuck one of the 57's in the waist band. "Faith," he bellowed as he opened the door.

The door to Giles's room opened and the junior slayer stepped out. "Don't worry about it boy toy, I've got it covered. <How the hell do I explain this> the junior slayer decided to bite the bullet and come clean. "Xander its Giles, he's back."

"Thank god. Merlin, cancel the alert." Xander charged into the room only to fid Giles stretched out on the bed, but it wasn't the same Giles. He was much leaner that before he'd left for Toril and there were hints of creases on his face that weren't there before. Xander touched the man to see if he needed medical attention and what he felt and saw surprised even him. Where before there was a duality about Giles that could be easily seen, a mixture of a metallic blue and green aura, now there was only the green and it shown much brighter than before. Xander gently shook the man. "Giles," he intoned softly.

"I wouldn't do that just yet," a female voice said from behind him.

Xander turned expecting to see one of the girls from the household, instead he found Aphrodite floating in the air above Faith, who was now frozen in time. "What are you doing here," Xander said none too kindly.

"Well who else would bring him home?"

Xander snorted in reply.

"Listen Junior… There are lots of things you have left to learn." Aphrodite floated to the floor and her tone of voice softened, "He had a hard time of it and my Ex just handed him two shocks of a lifetime. You're going to have to take it easy on him for a while. Give him a chance to get his balance again.

"I know he lost Daa'naal and the sword, even I can see that. What else happened?"

"That's for him to tell you. For now, wait for him."

Xander suddenly found himself alone with Faith again. "Shit. He cursed, "Just what I needed, more mysteries."

Vulcan's Forge

Vulcan limped down the long hallway that he privately thought of as the way of destruction. He came to an empty spot and with extremer care he hung the Sword of Life back in its spot. "Don't worry old friend, when the time comes, he'll be back for you."

Epilog 2

Pain had been a constant companion for Rupert Giles, from early childhood, where he was torn by his own choice of avocation and his family's traditional membership in the Council of Watchers. Each choice led only to further capitulation in his choices and personal freedoms, and he resented it, badly even worse it hurt to give up on your own dreams.

As he lay in his own bed, all of the thoughts and choices flooded through his mind and he could only wonder how the bloody hell it had led to this point in time. Daa'naal was gone and in his place was an empty spot that Giles couldn't even imagine filing. He'd become so used to simply thinking and calling out a name that it had become second nature to have the Elven Mage close at hand willing to offer suggestions or even a kick in the ass when Giles needed it. Simply put He missed Daa'naal. And even worse than that he knew that His own Buffy was alive and well on Toril and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it now.

"Damn Him," the Mage cursed out loud." Damn Him to the darkest hell. The bugger knew I would want those scrolls to rescue Buffy." Giles rose from the bed and entered the bathroom to splash some water on his face. He glanced in the mirror and his own haunted face stared back at him. Revulsion at what he'd done, he'd destroyed the only mechanism for retrieving Buffy from Toril that he'd know of, worse that that, He still had to tell Xander about Buffy. "Not a comforting thought," he admitted to his own image.

Giles was interrupted from his genuflecting by a female voice coming for the bedroom, "Hey G man."

Giles put his best face forward. He grabbed a towel from the rack and hastily wiped the water from his face. "Giles" the voice was much closer now, "There you are," she added.


Faith was never one to let an opportunity to needle Giles go unanswered, "And looking pretty fly too."

"Faith now is not the time."

"All lean and trim. The bags under the eyes sorta ruins the effect," she conceded"

Giles counted to ten in Latin… and then in German… and then in Elven. The last one surprised the Librarian turned mage. "Is there something I can do for you?"

The bright smile on Faith's face faded when Giles didn't return her smart assed quips and her tone of voice betrayed her feelings, "I just wanted to see if you were alright," She turned away and headed for the door, "I didn't mean anything by it."

As she reached for the doorknob, Giles's self pity faded in light of his hurting Faith's feeling. "He rushed to the door, "Faith, please wait."

Faith's smile returned just as quickly as it had fled. "Now there's the G-man we all know and love. S'up?"

Giles grabbed the surprised slayer into a hug, "More than you can possibly know." He whispered so softly that only a slayers enhanced hearing would have picked it up.

Faith gently pushed the Watcher away, "Is this something you want to talk about," she said in a rarely used empathic voice, "I can go get Xan, or maybe Tara."

Giles stepped back even further. "No, I believe you are the perfect person Faith. An even less used blush claimed the stunned slayer, "but first I have something for you. Giles went back to the bed and dug around on the side of it where he'd dropped his equipment. He retrieved Faith's knife. "I want to thank you for this, it made all the difference."

"Glad I could help," Faith said as she drew the custom blade from its sheath. The dried black blood and specks of dried spider web caught her attention. She flicked the knife, trying to remove the crud on it. "Kinda high factor there G-man, Want to tell me about it?"

"Of course I would. Perhaps we best get something to drink, this promises to be a long story."

"I wouldn't miss this for anything." Without waiting for Giles to answer, Faith took off at a dead run for the stairway. Without breaking stride, she slid down the banister head first. Before the knob at the bottom could do any damage the Younger Slayer rolled off the banister into a dive roll and headed for the kitchen.

She slid her way across the kitchen floor on sock clad feet, grinding to a halt right in front of the refrigerator just as she planned. "I still got it," she smirked to herself. Faith ripped the door open and reached for six bottles of beer. Balancing three bottles in each hand she raced back to Giles's room.

From the doorway Faith saw Giles in a completely different light. He was sitting on the bed wearing an old chambray short that had seen better days and a pair of very old jeans that still bore the logo of the Rolling Stones on the thigh. No longer was he the nearly infallible Ex-watcher that she took great pleasure in teasing, he was different. Somehow more human. "Here," she said, tossing him on of the beers.

Giles caught the cold bottle without looking up from what he was doing. He reached over and parked the beer on the headboard of the bed and unsnapped the holster holding the Detonics. The empty magazine flew from the butt of the pistol and Giles caught it and set it aside for cleaning later. "Don't even think about it," he warned Faith as she started to open one of the beers.

"C'mon Geeves, I'm 19 years old."

"And the day you can show me a Valid ID that proves that, you can have a beer." Giles pressured the slide release upwards and drew the slide back. "And don't reach for those either, He said noticing the pack of smokes that she was reaching for.

"Damn it, just like Xan, your no fun either." Faith slid onto the bed with Giles. "Want some help?"

"If you like," Giles drew the double holster and passed it to Faith. She drew the second Detonics and began copying his actions.

For a few minutes the room was quiet than Faith's curiosity got the better of her. "Well, she asked, are we going to talk or just sit here and do out best Andy imitations?"

That drew a chuckle from Giles. "I'm actually sitting here trying to figure out where to start."

"Well duh, at the beginning of course."

"Ha ha ha ha, if I started at the beginning I'm afraid that your history class would seem a bit out of date. Perhaps a little further along in the story. When I cast the spell we ended up in the very oddest of rooms."

"Wait a second," Faith interrupted, "We, Whose we?"

Giles seemed a bit confused by the question. Giles reached for the head board and took a huge swallow of his beer before he answered, "Why Daa'naal and I of course."

"Wait one fricken minute. Daa'naal, as in guy in the sword, no body for the last million or so years, that Daa'naal?"

"That didn't seem to bother Mystra in the least."

Faith reached over and took the beer from Giles's hand. She drained the remains of the bottle in one huge gulp. "Better," she said and then added "that's about a 1500 on the Weird-shit-o-meter."

Giles considered chastising Faith about the beer and then thought, <What the fuck> "And that my dear Faith was just the beginning."

Faith smiled and leaned forward to listen.

Giles opened another beer and handed her one as well. "Your weird-shit-o-meter is about to get broken."

"Oh really… I don't know Giles, its pretty elastic. Let's see, we've already seen the world end, start all over like a bad movie. It takes a lot to break the weird-shit-o-meter."

Giles laid the pistol down. Ok add these to the list, Dragons, several types I might add. Ghosts, Orcs, Demons that look like giant spiders, Trolls, which were particularly repellent, Toril Gods, Greek gods and oh we can't forget an Elven Aunt that made Daa'naal feel like a school boy.

"Hold it… hold it… hold, freaking, It."

"What do you mean, 'made Daa'naal feel like a school boy?'"

"Oh I guess I forgot that part. We were in Daa'naal's body the whole time."

"Holy shit. Start from the beginning and don't leave out a detail."

For the next five hours Giles talked and Faith listened. Even she grew a little teary when Giles told her about the little Silver Dragon and how it had died the first time. In contrast, Faith laughed like a fool when he told her about their drunken adventures in the tavern in Daggerford.

Towards the end, where Giles was explaining what happened in Vulcan's forge he grew very quiet, almost as if he were debating with himself. "Faith… I miss Buffy."

"So make up an excuse and visit the school tomorrow. Old mister pole up his ass might not like it but he doesn't have the balls to say anything to you."

"It's not the same. She's not our Buffy. A poor imitation at best"

That got Faith's attention pretty damn fast. The pair had never spoken about what had happened when the Hellmouth had opened, It was like a raw wound that neither one wanted to pick at. "I know Giles," she patted the depressed watcher on the shoulder, "I know. She's gone and there's nothing that we can do about it."

Actually there is." Without saying another word Giles got up and went searching for Xander.

Giles stormed into the control center where Xander was getting the daily reports from Both Merlin and General Grey. "We need to talk,: he demanded of the young commander.

Hold on a second General Grey," Xander turned to Giles, "Are you drunk?"

Giles stood there, nearly swaying, "Close enough I would say."

A drunken Giles was enough to get Xander's full attention. General Grey I'll contact you later on this evening, I have a bit of a situation." He turned back to Giles. "I'm all ears."

"Buffy is alive."

"Of course she is, I talked to her today at school."

Giles voice turned venomous, "Not that proto wanna be Buffy. I mean Buffy… Buffy." There he'd said it, and said it out loud to the one person he didn't want to have to tell that bit of news to. He cast a simple spell that would void the booze from his body. He didn't want Xander to think him a drunken fool who was living in a dream world.

"Giles you aren't making any sense."

"Buffy Summers, our Buffy Summers in alive and well somewhere on Toril." He said authoritatively, "she's alive Xander, and we abandoned her."

Xander couldn't have been more shocked if you'd just told him that a Goa'uld had just been elected President. "What… How…?"

"That I don't know yet. I suspect it had something to do with the Dark Elf's spell but I'm guessing. The real question is what are we going to do about it?"

Xander didn't reply. He couldn't reply. He'd never considered that Buffy was anything but dead. For months after the reset he harbored secret hopes that she'd been shifted in time as well, but the first meeting in Los Angeles shot those hopes down in the first second after he'd looked at her. He known then, this wasn't his Buffy.

Indecision, rare for the young commander froze him for just a minute and them the realization of what he'd ordered Giles to do with the scrolls dawned on him and the full implications of that order sunk in. Xander's face fell like a rock, "Oh shit, he swore, "The scrolls."

"Have been destroyed. Xander I'm sorry. I didn't know at the time either. He hesitated for a long minute, "and if I had, I'd have probably still followed your orders. They were the right thing to do. The question now is: what do we do?"

A voice came from behind them. "You do precisely nothing,"

Xander spun around with Elan in hand and ready for battle. "Oh now there's a threat. What are you going to do Twinkie me to death? Sure enough, Xander looked down and instead of the rune battle staff he was holding a Twinkie in his hand. He mentally checked to see if Elan was alright. When she answered his call he stuck the Twinkie in his mouth.

"I should have guessed he said. "What are you doing here voice?"

"Oh I thought Id drop by and have a spot of tea," the sarcasm couldn't have been thicker if he'd tried, which was saying something for the Voice. "What do you think I'm doing, stopping you two from doing something stupid."

"Saving our friend isn't stupid." Giles wished with all of his heart that he still had the Sword of Life so he could at least take a swing at this pompous ass.

"Listen, as I've said a million times before, things happen for a reason."

The voice's answer failed to placate Giles in the least. The voice looked up, "I told you it wouldn't work, now pay up."

An intense light filled the small room, but more than that, it warmed the souls of the two men who still refused to believe what the voice was saying. A small woman appeared out of the light, a serene smile on her face. She briefly stopped by the voice and touched his hand briefly. "Well what do you know I was right for one, better make a note of this, might never happen again."

God walked over to Giles and wrapped her arms around him. A look of stunning peace claimed the worried Mage and under gods love the gauntness and depression faded away. In mere seconds the bags under his eyes disappeared and the hole left in his soul when Daa'naal left was filled. "I understand," he whispered… "Thank you."

God turned towards Xander and gave her favored son and champion a smile and a curtsey and suddenly the room seemed empty.

The voice walked over to the pair. "See, she knows what she is doing. He took the rest of the Twinkie and took a small bite… and promptly spit it out. "How can you eat that crap?"

The End


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