The StoryBaltison had been employed by the Royal Family as an advisor for the King. Both the King and Queen remembered him being around for most of their lives. Though when exactly they met him, they could not quite remember. After several years of being childless, they were finally blessed and had a daughter. She was born during hard times, yet with her birth, there was a peace that seemed to come over the land. With the news of a daughter, the troubles in the land seemed to fade away. Baltison was there during the hard times, and he was present when she was born. Princess Ellest, named after her mother and grandmother, was a charm that settled happily upon the Royal family as well as the land. She was accepted by all.

Yet, this peace did not last. On the Princess' 17th birthday, she was on a diplomatic voyage to a neighboring kingdom. Of course the full guard accompanied her and her entourage. The day started out as almost any other. Well, minus the extra hustle of workers getting the carriages packed, the stable hands getting the horses ready, and numerous of other workers trying to get things just right for the royal journey. At noon, the Princess was to set out. And she did. Everything was going just as the King had planned and hoped. That is until a week later.

There was suppose to be word from the messenger that the princess and her entourage arrived safely. Yet there was not. Another week passed with no word, so the kind sent out a small troop to scout the lands between the two kingdoms. The neighboring ruler had not yet seen nor heard anything from the Princess and offered his assistance in finding her. Another week passed. That was when they finally found something. Two of the eight men sent out to find the princess and her entourage returned sullen and wrecked. They reported that they had found her carriage alone and separated from the rest. There was a total of 6 carriages, two wagons and 42 men that had accompanied her. Yet all that was left was carnage. One of the solders could not talk at all, he was in shock still. The other reported that her carriage was separated and on its side. Almost as if someone had casually knocked it over. The horses as well as the carriage men and guards were dead. The Queen fell over onto the floor at this news, and screamed! Baltison reported that it was all he could do to pick her up and calm her down.

The solder continued his report when she was calmed down to a sobbing mother. He said that the Princess' body was not found, however there was a note wrapped around an odd dagger that was stuck into the plush seat inside. At this news, he presented the dagger and the note. The dagger was of an odd metal, dark, almost black with silver and blue ripples all along the blade. The blade itself had an odd and slight wavey curve to it. It could be seen where it was stabbed into the cushion. Bits of cotton and silk stuck the edges. In the solders other hand, he held out the note. The King nodded for the solder to approach and waited. Taking one cautious step at a time, the solder approached the king, stopping at each white marble step. There were only four to climb, yet it seemed like a mountain to him. It was never a good omen to give ones King bad news about their daughter.

The king took both the blade and the note from the solder, examined the dagger briefly and handed it to his mage. "See what you can make of this and where it came from Baltison." With a nod, the mage said, "As you wish my Lord." The king then unrolled the message, noting the paper had an odd feel to it. It felt almost too thick to be normal parchment. And the colour was more varied then most paper was. Even cheaply made paper. Unrolling it he began to read, first to himself then out loud.

"Your actions of greed have not gone unnoticed, nor have your deeds of dishonor. If you wish to see your daughter and cargo alive and well again, I advise you to fulfill your families promise that was once made to my father's father. You will find all you need from your wizard. Do not send him to find me however, else your daughter will not live and your cargo lost forever." The queens sobs became weeping as she heard the words. "I want my daughter back!" she said between the tears. Then she realized the stress the note said about cargo. Turning to her husband, she asked, "What is this cargo? And why does it appear to be as important as our daughter?" the king could tell she was getting angry, but only shrugged his shoulders. "You had better tell me everything! If you have put our daughter in any kind of danger I will have your head." The king, startled at his wife''s sudden aggressiveness said as calmly as was possible in this situation, "My Wife, and love of my life." he paused for a few seconds then continued under the queens glair, "There is nothing to tell that I know of. Only the homage, contracts and deeds for Lord Shamir was included. Well, other than our daughters stuff. We shall find her, do not worry! I will do everything in my power to get her back home to us, safe and alive." The queen did not answer him, but only glared coldly at him. Then without warning, she got up and left the room.

Baltison stopped talking and the room was quiet. No one spoke for several minutes taking in the story that was told to them. Without thinking about it, Berra took a sip of the wine. It must be okay, she thought to herself. After all, no one else had dropped dead while the mage was telling his story.

"This is how it all started. I am not sure what happened or why. I do know however that in one of the chests is an artifact that was to be a present, a peace offering if you will, to the Lord Shamir. If you can recover the Princess you will greatly rewarded. If you can recover the artifact, then not only will you be rewarded and seen as heroes to my Lord and Lady, but also to the world. In the wrong hands, it can be quite dangerous."

Everyone except for Tolrin looked shocked that this old man, mage or not, would put more emphasis on some old artifact then on the life of the princess. Apparently Baltison knew what they thinking and stated, "I put value in all life, not just one person. That is why the artifact is just as important as her." Concerned and curious, Sharill asked simply, "What is the artifact?" For the first time, the mage had a blank look on his face, the first real expression since any of them had met him. Perhaps it was the lack of a fake expression of calm that unnerved them. His tone of voice echoed concern. "Of this we do not know for sure. It has a twin that sits in a painting that is above the throne of the Lord Shamir. In the painting, there are two rods that are in either arm of a throne with a skeleton sitting crowned. The skeleton is holding an orb in one hand and a scroll in the other. Those rods are tipped with some kind of jewel." Baltison paused to take a sip from his cup. Everyone waited for him to continue. "It is one of those rods that was stolen. The Lord Shamir said it was an artifact of power from his past, and the painting did support that. To stop the fighting between the two kingdoms, my King offered the rod as a peace offering which Lord Shamir accepted. However, this rod was imbued with some kind of power. A magic I nor any other mage of my land recognized."

Cathos was the one to speak up this time. Standing up as if he were in a class, he asked, "Then how do you know it is as dangerous as you say?" A grim expression crossed the old man''s face. " I was going to get to that eventually, but since you asked, the Queen. She had a dream." Tolrin jumped up then, not out of respect, but out of irritation. "Then how do you know this dream is real old man? I am tired of your half stories. I do not feel as if I know anything more of importance then I had when I first woke up here." The old mage stood up slowly. "I understand your frustration, however all things will be answered in time. For someone so seasoned and experienced, you still lack patience. Now will you PLEASE sit down?"


Tolrin sat down angrily, and let everyone in the room know how upset and insulted he was. Yet he did not dare say anything else at this time. "Now where was I? Oh yes, the Queens dream. Her family is known for being Dreamers, yet she never did show the gift. At least not until now. I had to give her a tonic each night so she could sleep. Normally these tonics give a peaceful dreamless sleep, yet not for the Queen. Instead she had a night full of dreams. And each of them were about death and destruction. Each of them centered around a series of artifacts and scrolls. The one that was stolen was a key factor and present in each one. I am not one to doubt my Queen when she tells me these were real."

Barra spoke up this time. As calmly as she could muster, "You gave your queen chamomile laced with black willow and mince leaf?" The mage nodded. "Why yes I did. How perceptive. See? I knew I was correct in choosing you."

"So what are we suppose to do?" Tolrin asked as impatiently. He was not sure how much time had passed, yet his stomach was telling him it was past time to eat. He knew he forgot to pack something. Then again, he did leave most of his things back at the inn. At least, he thought while he checked his side, he brought his scabbard and sword. Feeling his ankles, he felt even more relieved.

Baltison looked a bit worried towards the party before him. "All I have to offer is a few odd scrolls and notes I was able to find and piece together. They may not be what you want, yet I have a feeling that these will help you in your adventure. Please help us find the Princess and the artifact as soon as possible." With that said he stood up. "Outside that door is the city Khai Malik. It is quite large, and you should be able to find the rest of the supplies you might need. I choose this small place of refuge since it was quite and we could speak alone without any prying ears. If you really need me, I will be around." Everyone was in awe at his direct nature. Sharill spoke up then before anyone else could voice their concerns. "What if we choose not to help you? And how do we know what you say is true?"

"The skeptic as always. That is a good thing. You will see by the rumors in town that what I said was true. If you wish to not assist me and my King and Queen, then only hold the scroll and think of home. You will be returned and the scroll will no longer be of use. However if you wish to help, then that scroll that each of you possesses will be your key to completing the quest." As soon as he finished he was gone. No poof of smoke, no dazzling light, nothing that either Tolrin or Cathos had expected. Yet, even though Berra and Sharill were somewhat aquatinted to magic they were still startled at his sudden disappearance. It was as if he was never there. For several minutes the party just stood there in silence, amazed or shocked. No one was quite sure what they were feeling.

Tolrin spoke first. "I am hungry! who has the food?"