- 1 About Fletcher
- 2 Associates & Friends
- 3 Stories and Tales
- 3.1 The Story Begins
- 3.2 Flight to the Protectorate
- 3.3 Man of Opportunity?
- 3.4 The Lessons Learned
- 3.5 A Gift, A Trophy, An Inheritence
- 3.6 Moving On
- 3.7 Into the Shadows
- 3.8 The Spiritland
- 3.9 The Ace of Hearts
- 3.10 A Friend Departs
- 3.11 A Change of Heart
- 3.12 Opportunity Knocks
- 3.13 Le'No'F-ing'Way...
- 3.14 No, Really, Kill the Messenger
- 3.15 From Student to Teacher
- 3.16 The Battle of Slaver's Run
- 3.17 Hunter and Prey
- 3.18 Army of Two
- 3.19 The Treasure of Dragonbeard Beardaxe
- 3.20 Joining the SATF
- 3.21 A Tale of Two Demons
- 3.22 Dru'el Berath Loe
- 3.23 Marriage to Pan'na Stormcloud
- 4 OOC Stuff
Fletcher Millstone, the self-styled "Man of Opportunity", is a human male who hailed from the town of Southill and later Blandenberg, and has now made his home in Zvidureth. He can often be found traveling the roads of Southern Avlis, looking for "Opportunities" (as he calls them), which has led to him opening a shop called Opportunity Knocks. He learned some of his stealth skills under the watchful eye of someone he refers to affectionately as "The Old Man", now deceased, and later with the help of a halfling Shadowdancer named Findle Flamestick, whom he met in Ferrell.
Fletcher is quick with a sarcastic quip, or a flattering comment, but beneath the talk lies a sense of insecurity regarding how people feel about him, something that shows when pressed further regarding something he has said garners a reaction from those around him. Also, where he once tended to force many situations into a business point of view, in order to keep himself from getting emotionally involved or attached, his time spent in the Spiritland among the inhabitants there has softened this viewpoint, and he has found himself reaching out more to help those in need. Another result of this change in attitude has caused him to change his faith from Hurine to Dru'El.
Aside from being a shopkeeper, auctioneer, and trainer of Shadowdancers and scouts, Fletcher has recently been promoted in Le'Nofaythen's 6th Division to the Intelligence Captain, while carrying a rank of Woodmaster as a soldier.
Associates & Friends
In his numerous travels, Fletcher has managed to meet quite a few people who have become allies and friends. Here are a few of them...
Pan'na - A fellow scout in Le'Nofaythen, this huntress of Pelar tracked Fletcher down to learn the finer points of stealth. The teacher and student soon fell in love with each other, and were inseparable. They have since become married. The two can often be seen together in Zvidureth, or taking a quiet walk through the woods. To know what truly lies within Fletcher's heart, one would need only ask Pan'na, for he trusts her with even his innermost secrets. Fletcher admires her warmth and humor. She admires his ability to wrestle sharks.
Thorfinn Kiff - Besides serving with Fletcher by virtue being a Rangermaster in Le'Nofaythen, Finn is quite possibly the closest friend that Fletcher has. They often meet up to share an ale, a smoke, and discuss the goings on around T'Nanshi. Finn tried to sneak up on Fletcher once, but the sound of clinking bottles and smell of the Moon Tree's 21 varieties of brews gave him away. He also failed to sneak up on a corpse for this same reason.
Ellowin Kiff - Aside from being Finn's wife, Ellowin has been a friend and fellow defender of T'Nanshi for as long as Fletcher has been there, and alongside Finn was also a major factor in his joining Le'Nofaythen. She also hasn't shot him yet, which is a plus!
Leo - While most people are quite distrustful of gnolls, Leo was so easy going and affable that the two struck up a friendship quite quickly. Defending T'Nanshi together in Le'Nofaythen has allowed the two young warriors to continue to work together, while still finding time to relax outside of the Leaping Stag with the regulars. He's not from Nightfang, by the way. Did you know gnolls live in other places besides Nightfang? Most people don't.
Varion Raykeeshen - "Pops" has earned Fletcher's respect and friendship, having been one of the first to welcome him to Zvidureth. Though he is not in the 6th division, he is an Avenger, and thus is often along on missons to protect the Spiritland from those who seek to do harm. Sometimes he wears no pants. Fletcher is still his friend, though.
Archibald Thel - Also known as "The Red Dragon", Archi is a master transmutant. His travels led him to Zvidureth, and his involvement in the goings-on led him to join Le'Nofaythen. There is a good-natured sort of rivalry between the two, joking around and throwing minor barbs at each other. When problems arise, however, the two often work side by side as a team. Archibald is jealous of Fletcher's hair. Fletcher is jealous of Archibald's jealousy of his hair. The previous statements may or may not be true.
Silver Fox - A Blackguard of Maleki may seem an interesting choice, but after meeting Silver when he first arrived north of Blandenberg, Fletcher has actually struck up a camaraderie of sorts with her. Joint missions to kill Shaahesk Slavers has become a common theme with the two unlikely friends. Her fierce burning rage is enough to set most people fleeing during battle for fear of getting in the way of her path of destruction. But not Fletcher. That's what good stealth skills and tiptoeing away are for.
Rode Benneseph - Rode is a more recent arrival to the town of Zvidureth, but has become a loyal friend and ally. Displaying both ladylike grace, and deadly combat tactics, Rode is a welcome warrior by Fletcher's side whenever the time calls for it. Fletcher has named her "Sherriff" of Zvidureth, playing upon his moniker as "The Mayor". Though a large sword doesn't seem the right accessory for a fine dress, nobody is going to challenge her on the fashion choice.
Moriand Dias - Moriand is a true ranger, never staying in any one spot for too long. The two met on the road south of Zvidureth some time ago, and have shared in many ales, smokes, and hunts. When his hunt does not take him too far away, Moriand will stop by to catch up on the latest happenings before heading back to the woods again. He's become quite adept at hunting down many of the dangers that lie in wait for travelers. Contrary to popular belief, Fletcher does not pay Moriand in mellowsmoke to be his friend.
Thienna Hurst - The Fatespinner of the Blue has been friends with Fletcher from his days in Elysia, where he used his keen business sense to track down an important item or two. He holds great respect for her, and often consults with her for advice. Fletcher knows better than to gamble with her.
Fergus Goodmane - Fergus, a White Necromancer, has a shop just down the road from Fletcher's, so the two would run into each other in Zvidureth often enough. While he looks to Fergus for help on various matters where his knowledge and keen mind would be an asset, Fletcher often can't help trying to get Fergus' goat with an off-color comment, trying to leave him guessing. Fergus has not slapped him yet.
Liam Dald - The Professional Hero, Liam Dald. To list his accolades would take up too much time, for sure, but he and Fletcher have been on many adventures together doing what heroes do best: Fighting the enemies, saving the ladies, recovering the treasure, and drinking the alcohol.
Dillon Wylde - Often accompanying Liam, Dillon is a Professional Hero in his own right. He and Dald have a back and forth rivalry, trying to one-up each other, or throw each other under the wagon (depending on the circumstances). He is often a welcome companion on any adventure that Fletcher finds himself thrust into. He is sometimes the cause of any adventure that Fletcher finds himself thrust into as well...
Raine - Raine is an excellent archer, having mastered the art of Arcane Archery, and often is advised to give a level headed and honest assessment of any situation. Her kind demeanor has welcomed many newcomers to the area, and her loyalty to her friends has made quite an impression on Fletcher. The girl can sew too!
Aeveras - Fletcher has not known Aeveras as long as he has known some of his other friends, but Veras has proven to be a worthy companion, with his heart in the right place. Oddly, though he is able to use the shadows much like Fletcher does, he does not show this ability very often, for reasons that are his own. Events with Zelia and the 3 sisters have led Fletcher to often take a protective stance near Veras whenever one of them arrives, should trouble follow. Veras' companion Tilk, a Mircat, reaps the benefits of Fletcher's dislike of seafood by being served any leftovers by Pan'na whenever she sees them. Veras does not get a fish.
Kassha Firehart - Kassha and Fletcher are very much alike, the only differences being that Kassha is a Sorceror, while Fletcher is a Shadowdancer. Also, Kassha carries an umbrella, while Fletcher carries kukris. Oh, Kassha also has short purple hair, while Fletcher has long brown braids. Actually, you know what? Never mind. They're friends, that's good enough.
Stories and Tales
The Story Begins
"I ain't nobody special, I'm just me. But I'm damned good at it."
- Fletcher Millstone
Fletcher Jayden Millstone was born to Reginald and Bonnie Millstone, as the youngest of 6 children (older siblings: Deron, Colin, Selenah, Eunice, Arthur) in the town of Southill, M'Chek. Named for his grandfather on his mother's side, Fletcher Jayden (a bard of some limited fame within the local taverns), his youngest days were spent following his 3 older brothers around the town, or being a royal pain to his 2 older sisters. For the most part, he grew up with a normal childhood full of scraped knees and being grounded for not doing his chores.
All of this changed when the trouble came to Southill.
Flight to the Protectorate
"The thing about running is this: You gotta know what you're running from. If it's certain death, don't bother looking behind you. You know what's there."
- Reginald Millstone
The rumors of demons, and mysterious shards had been circulating around the taverns for some time. Fletcher, by this time a young man in his mid-teens, would hear the stories of foul things breaking through defenses in search of the mysterious shards, and the people who dedicated themselves to stopping them. The latest reports had placed the activity closer to the south, with many random appearances occurring in the major cities and towns. Still, Southill went on as always. They had survived terrible things, the Verossan storm of poison that killed so many... surely the worst had happened to them.
The day the demon hordes struck, it was as though someone had stomped on an anthill. Fletcher rushed about trying to find his siblings, now married with their own families, and get the word out to leave immediately. Packing what they could on their backs, and loading his aged grandfather into a pushcart, the family fled the terror and wanton destruction, following the chaotic flow of people northwards... to the Protectorate of Blandenberg.
The Millstone family reunited near the hospital, and to their dismay they were not complete. Fletcher's second oldest brother, Colin, had fallen while defending the town alongside the guard. His sister Selenah was a widow, her husband Harold torn to pieces just outside of their home. She refused to eat for days, and seemed to waste away before their eyes. The local clergy could do little for her, and the day came when she finally passed on. Fletcher couldn't say for sure what it was that took her life, but he knew he'd never forget the look of utter horror on her face that never seemed to fade.
Man of Opportunity?
"What's a 'Man of Opportunity'? Whatever I want it to be, and whatever you need it to be."
- Fletcher Millstone
While his family was sheltered in Blandenberg, Fletcher wandered around M'chek and eventually fell in with some of the other displaced M'chekians who had fled the demon scourge. In doing so, he met Ulon Gladdenforth who was anxious for an opportunity to change his present situation. The two young men would often hang around in the taverns looking for day to day work, and possibly a bigger catch. Their chance came when they overheard a couple of men discussing someone they called "The Old Man". Apparently, they weren't happy with their cut from some of their acquisitions, and were looking to "get even" by robbing him as he brought the evening's gold and gems home to his safe. As Fletcher strained to hear over the bustle of the gathering afternoon crowd, he heard "...closes shop at sundown..." , "takes the western forest road into T'Nanshi", and "...always alone". His eyes caught a glimpse of a small map as one of the two thugs seemed to point to a getaway route.
Ulon and Fletcher hatched their own plan, while observing the other two men. They would simply slip out, hide along the road, and wait for the robbery to go down. Then, they would ambush the would-be robbers and make off with the loot. Fletcher argued that if they returned the loot, they could be rewarded and it would open up more opportunities for work with the other merchants, and improve their standing in the area. Ulon was adamant that to do so was a fool's errand, and that the angry merchant may accuse them of being involved in the theft. After some further hushed argument, Fletcher grudgingly accepted Ulon's logic as the more likely outcome. The two then finished their drinks and made their way out of the tavern as inconspicuously as possible.
Sundown came, and Ulon and Fletcher each crouched on a tree branch watching as the night time shadows began to creep in, making it more difficult to see. Just then, they heard the sound of quickly moving feet and some yelling that sounded like an elderly voice, followed by an incoherent yell and more running in their direction. The two thugs came high tailing it down the road as fast as they could. With nobody following the robbers, it was a simple ambush to take them down. The two friends leapt from the tree, each tackling one of the thugs, and with a few quick moves, knocking them senseless for the moment. Ulon quickly patted them down and held up a satchel with a grin as he and Fletcher prepared to run.
In an instant, the satchel was gone from his hands, and an elderly human in a fine cloak appeared seemingly out of nowhere, as though from the shadows themselves, but Fletcher thought to himself that it had to be a trick of the forest and the moonlight flickering through the branches. The satchel was in the old man's hand, and he hoisted it around his shoulder before drawing 2 wicked looking Kukris from his belt. "Surely you were going to find me and return this, but you were pointed in the wrong direction, aye?" the old man said with a smirk. Given the circumstances, Ulon and Fletcher nodded in silent agreement, with Fletcher shooting an "I told you so" glare at his friend. "Come then, let us be on our way...I know a shortcut..." and the old man moved quickly, seemingly flitting from tree to tree as the two younger friends attempted to keep up with him...
The Lessons Learned
"I ain't ashamed to admit I've done some bad stuff in my day. That's the difference between me and you two lads."
- Keevan Dawntracker
A year passed, and by this time Ulon and Fletcher had long been working for "The Old Man", known commonly as Keevan Dawntracker. He ran a small shop, selling "this and that", but his true business was as a fence and acquirer of rare items for the right price, always in gold or gems. This required a lot of legwork, and as he was now short his two employees, he decided to take the two under his wing. Ulon had settled right into his role as one of Keevan's apprentices, while Fletcher served as the other. While the fencing business did not exactly sit well with Fletcher at first, he asked his mentor how he felt about selling goods stolen from people. The reply was a simple one "...and whose backs do you think they stood on to get those items and gold? All people rob someone in one way or another..."
During their stay, Keevan often took the two aside and trained the both of them in stealth, precision, and business sense. He seemed to see great potential in the both of them, and always said that he had high hopes for their future in the business. While Ulon was easily the better in combat, Fletcher had a cooler head for tactics and thus was Keevan's go-to guy when a deal required some thinking. Ulon, on the other hand, was a bit brash in his dealings and had roughed up a few people along the way, much to the chagrin of Fletcher. His hotheaded friend had caused tavern fights on more than one occasion as well.
A Gift, A Trophy, An Inheritence
"Child, there's going to come situations in your life when you're not going to be able to run your mouth and get out of them. When those times come, strike like your life depends on it. It probably does."
- "Grandpa" Fletcher Jayden
Finally the day came where during a meeting, Keevan called the both of them to him. He was retiring, and wanted the two close friends to take over the business as equal partners, but with Fletcher as the face of the business. Ulon looked surprised, and a bit hurt. "Fletcher has a better head for this, Ulon, but your usefulness is just as needed in other areas..." Much to their amazement, he then laid out his two prized kukris on the table in front of each of them, each one engraved with one of his students' initials. Keevan had very few possessions, preferring to stick to gold and gems. "Easier to carry, easier to hide, and nobody remembers whose gold piece it was!" he always had said. Now he was passing on two of those few possessions to his business heirs.
Fletcher took the kukri that was designated as his, the one that Keevan had always used in his better hand, while Ulon received the off-hand kukri. As Fletcher admired the blade's sharpness he heard a muffled cry, and looked up to see Ulon just finish burying the kukri into Keevan's chest in front of him. "He always liked you better..." Ulon muttered before turning quickly to strike at a horrified Fletcher. While Ulon was more powerful, Fletcher had always been the more nimble of the two, and sidestepped the attack before swinging the small blade defensively, cutting across his friend's eyes and blinding him as the blood spurted forth. Ulon swung wildly and was slashed across hard the the hand, cutting his thumb off and causing him to drop his weapon as Fletcher slashed him yet again across of the back of the leg, leaving him to stumble as his hamstring was severed. Fletcher shoved him aside, and ran to their now deceased mentor, Ulon crawled and stumbled his way to the door, staggering headlong into the forest, not to be seen again...
...and Fletcher quietly cleaned up the home of his mentor, sheathed both Kukris, gathered what gold he found, and prepared a funeral pyre in the home, breaking down furniture and dousing the place with oil. He then wrapped his master's cloak about his shoulders, locked the door behind him, and stood outside of the house holding a torch in his hand. "You were right" he thought to himself "everyone robs someone of something, sometime, in one way or another".
Fletcher tossed the torch through the window and hurried away as the house burned.
"Home? Had a few of those. Never ended well. Now home's wherever I sleep that night."
- Fletcher Millstone
Young Fletcher Millstone found himself at a crossroads and in need of something to do, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the recent tragedies that had befallen him. With few options on where to turn, Fletcher set out for the City of Elysia. It was there that he was able to track down a couple of Keevan's old contacts, and began to set up a business network of his own. To familiarize himself with the area a little better, he threw himself in with some of the trainees for the local law law enforcement (Le'Megen), but promptly excused himself after several missions when the time came to commit to the cause. Elysia had, however, provided him a safe place to branch out from, and a few friends and business associates to work with. In a short period of time, through ambition and hard work, he found himself with a good market for his skills. Dubbing himself the "Man of Opportunity", brought on after a conversation with a few of the locals, Fletcher continued to extend his contacts from Mikona all the way to Visimontium. It was in Visimontium that he pledged his devotion to the goddess Hurine, praying for blessings in business, promising to recognize good fortune when he saw it, and continue to pass it on to others.
Into the Shadows
"Well, when I want to hide... I just grab a shadow and pull it, see?"
- Findle Flamestick
While doing business in Elysia, Fletcher spoke often of his mentor (using his nickname of "The Old Man" when describing Keevan) and his wish to finish his training. One business-associate-turned-friend, Sywyn Foxglove, suggested a few names to him. One such name was of Oorayv'Levena, Archmage of the Ebony Order. Oorayv was considered a true master of the shadows, to the very point that he could incorporate them into his spells. While he declined to train Fletcher, he did offer some helpful advice.
The Man of Opportunity found luck to be on his side when he stopped in the Port Hole in Ferrell after a relaxing day of fishing. There was a local fellow there named Findle Flamestick, and the two struck up a conversation about Ferrell and other topics. Fletcher spoke of his wish to become a better scout, and to master the same talents his old mentor had. Upon hearing his story, Findle was interested enough to offer to help complete his training. So it was that the two of them set out for the Salt Mines by Braegan Pond, where Findle said he had first learned how to pull himself into the shadows. As hard as he tried, Fletcher just couldn't seem to get it, but Findle remained patient and instructed him where he might be going wrong. Finally in a moment of clarity, Fletcher succeeded.
As a celebration of the achievement, Findle gave Fletcher a set of leathers that he had worn when he was first learning, as well as a couple of trinkets to aid him in his progress. They parted ways, and Fletcher rushed to the forest to continue working on softening his steps.
"T'Nanshi? It's like a beautiful woman really. Gorgeous, exhilarating, mysterious, and full of wonder. You could get lost forever just admiring it. And one wrong move could mean trouble."
- Fletcher Millstone
Fletcher began to find himself going to T'Nanshi more and more often as time went by. There was a sense of peace he found within himself while he was there, and he would practice his scouting skills as he tried to hunt for food, or get a better view of the other wildlife. His travels eventually took him to Zvidureth, where he fell in with a group of regulars who would arrive in the evening after a day of work and sit outside to drink, smoke, and talk deep into the night. They spoke of religious ideals, craftsmanship, good food and drink, and most important of all... the war with the Shaahesk, and the trouble in the area. Fletcher felt his singular focus on business matters begin to slip, and he was soon taking a personal interest in the area and the people around him.
The Ace of Hearts
"Falling for a girl starts out innocently enough. There's a glance, maybe a smile, a wink, a nod... then something happens, and it hits you like no sickness ever could. When you get to that point, there's no going back, little brother."
- Arthur Millstone
Whenever he was asked, Fletcher could clearly recall the first time he ever saw Ace. While in Ferrell fishing for some trout, and hoping to reel in a nice sunfish, Fletcher's attention was caught by the sight of a purple haired Elven woman walking through the Port. He paused, taken aback by her, and ignoring the persistent tugging on his fishing pole by his latest catch. In a moment, she was gone, having disappeared around the bend on the road to Elysia.
Fletcher soon had another chance to talk to her, as he ran into her in Zvidureth while he was working on making some arrows for himself. The two spoke briefly, and he learned that she was staying in Zvidureth, right at the very tavern where he had been spending many an evening with the locals. The two often crossed paths from there, though Fletcher noticed that he seemed to have a difficult time having a straight conversation with her. Something froze him in place, and he couldn't even bring himself to sit next to her. He felt drawn not only to her beauty, but to her kind heart, and spirited personality. He found himself flirting with her, and having fun jousting back and forth with pranks. Fletcher knew that he felt a spark of something for Ace, but didn't have the first clue of how to let her know, or if he even should. Instead, he spent many an hour working alone in the mines or the forests, trying to get her out of his mind.
It was only after he spoke to Sywyn, that Fletcher decided what he had to do. He went about his daily business as usual, but that evening's walk to the Leaping Stag had a purpose. He was going to speak his mind, get it all out, and take whatever came back at him.... good, or bad.
When he arrived at the Stag, he found a good sized crowd sitting outside, much to his chagrin. After an ale or two, he began to loosen up and talked about the "joke" that had been played. Downing yet another ale, he turned towards Ace and blurted out how he thought she was "great, the best gem in the bunch, and a special lass". A small hush fell over the group, as Fletcher steadied himself and awaited a response. Ken Blake, a Toranite who had taken to relaxing at the Stag with his lady Mahera, suggested that Ace should "Give Fletcher a hug, that was such a nice thing to say". Ace paused and answered back to Fletcher: "It's not you, it's me".
Fletcher tried not to show his disappointment, but felt himself wince all the same. Those words stung worse than a simple "No" or "No way in the Nine Hells" or even "Not if you were the last man in T'Nanshi". Embarrassed, and somewhat crushed, he turned to leave before he humiliated himself further. Ace stopped him, and pulled him aside to talk.
As it turned out, she did feel the same as he did, but there was more to it. Ace then told him her own story: where she came from, and what her life was like growing up. Fletcher now understood what her response to him had really meant, and his worry began to melt away. He pledged that he would be patient, and try his best for her because "she was worth waiting for until he was grey".
The two traveled often together from that day forward, grew closer as they talked and laughed long into the night on many an occasion, and found how deeply one cared for the other. Soon, the "Spoiled Brat" and "Man of Opportunity" fell in love.
A Friend Departs
"The truth ain't worth a mountain of spittle. Be happy with the silence and each others company."
One night, Fletcher returned from finishing a business dealing and headed for his room at the Stag. To his surprise, he had a note and a small box waiting for him, both from Sywyn. Fletcher eagerly opened the note, hoping for some good word, and his heart sank. Sywyn was leaving, and was actually already gone, according to the note. The box was a last delivery he wished Fletcher to take care of for him, as a friend. Fletcher scanned the rest of the note, and frowned a bit at the bitterness of the words, and the advice given by his friend. He tucked the note away, and carried the box upstairs to be delivered the next day.
While he was sitting outside of the stag the following evening awaiting the pickup of the box, Fletcher spoke to Ace about Sywyn's departure. She asked several questions as to why, and where he was going, and if he would be back. Fletcher just shook his head, knowing full well how highly she had thought of the witty Avariel. Holding up the envelope he had received the night before, he simply said that Sywyn had needed to leave in order to do what he had set out to do. Deep down, he knew that he had lost an important business partner, and a friend.
Ace still didn't seem to understand fully, and seemed a bit hurt, maybe because Sywyn hadn't waited to at least say goodbye to them. Fletcher built a small campfire to keep them warm as the evening wore on, and found himself reading the note yet again, the words tearing at him as he looked between the parchment, and the eyes of the woman he loved. The truth about Sywyn would surely break her heart.
He crumpled the note, tossed it into the fire, and watched it burn away to ash.
A Change of Heart
"Your father and I raised the 6 of you to do the right thing, no matter what. We didn't teach you to do it with concern of approval, recognition, or consequence. You're better than that."
The departure of Sywyn weighed heavily on Fletcher's mind as he contemplated his next move. Aside from his closeness with Ace, he felt the strengthening bond between himself and the people of Zvidureth factoring into his decisions. He had been doing his business as usual, but his heart surely wasn't in it anymore. Deep down, Fletcher felt for sure that some change needed to be made before he ended up like many of the people he had dealt with before.
The pieces all finally fell into place when the group was gathered at The Stag one evening. They were (of course) enjoying a few drinks when a woman rushed towards them sobbing about the loss of her daughter to some Shaahesk slavers. Fletcher looked down a moment as he took another swig of his ale. "The army will handle it" he thought to himself. "It's not really my job to go chasing down every slaver who shows his face". Surely, he had done much for T'Nanshi, including fighting off a pack of Lycans with Ace mere weeks before, as well as organizing an expedition to Nightfang Mountain to collect a bounty or two. Those two events had been beneficial to him as well, to be honest, so it was all done with good business sense anyway. But getting up and running off because someone's kid got nabbed? That's what those uniformed fellows he saw seemingly behind every tree were around for, right?
Fletcher glanced up and saw the group was now assembling to move out to find the little girl. He sighed to himself and finished his drink before joining them to aid in the search. "Maybe I'll get to gut a Shaahesk or two, and we can get back here to relax", he thought. His thoughts turned to a possible reward for the deed, and he felt a small pang of guilt for concerning himself with it when he glanced at the woman's grief-stricken face as he passed by. Pulling up his hood, he fell in line with the others as they hurried as quickly and silently as they could towards the location suspected of being the slavers' hideout.
After several difficult battles, the group made their way to where the slaves were being held. Fletcher picked the locks on the shackles of a couple of the slaves and sent them on their way with a quick word of the safest route, and shrugged off their thanks. He then made his way back over to the group who had found the lost child. She was understandably quite afraid, and it took some coaxing and assurances from many of those there to convince her that she was going to be OK. Ace offered to carry her out, and the girl finally stepped forward to let them help her go home.
Fletcher finally got a good look at the child and noticed that she had been hit in the face by her captors. Ken was with the group and healed the girl's injuries, but Fletcher still seethed internally at the thought of the Shaahesk harming a helpless child like that. As the group made their way out of the cave, they were ambushed by the remaining slavers. While he assisted in fighting the enemy off, Fletcher found himself pouring his anger into every strike, going as far as to cave in the skull of a kobold with his boot, stomping long after it was dead.
That night, he found it difficult to sleep, tossing and turning with little comfort. Months of guilt, anger, and frustration over past events had resurfaced, and he now knew for sure that he could not stand idly by again when people were in need.
"I've found that the difference between good business decisions and bad business decisions involves counting your teeth as well as your gold when the deal is done. Somehow I've managed to keep a mouth full of pearly whites, and a pocket full of shiny coins, so I must be doing something right."
Following the rescue, Fletcher often took some time to pore over the old pocket ledger that he carried with him at all times, usually alone or away from prying eyes. One night as he lay awake flipping through the pages making small notations, he considered the nature of his work. Many of the contacts listed, one on each of the pages in intricate detail and coded using a cipher that Keevan had taught him, were less than desirable characters, but each had their use. Could he cut ties with all of them and still stay profitable? Possibly, but it wouldn't be as easy. However, the more important question was: Could he continue working with them and still ensure safety for the people he cared most about? After a moment of thought, he glanced down at Ace, curled up next to him and lightly sleeping. Fletcher then began back at the beginning of his list... marking the names of those with whom he could no longer do business.
Hours later, as the sun began to creep through the window, he finished marking his ledger with dog-eared pages and blotted out notations all around, and set out on yet another one of his ambiguous "business trips". This time, however, he was traveling to meet with those who were being crossed from the list. At each location, as each account was settled, through words, bribery, and sometimes brute force, the page was torn out and burned. If they ever came looking for him again, so be it. But, their prior connection was safely kept secret, and over, as far as Fletcher was concerned.
He returned several days later to find Ace waiting for him, a wide smile on her face as they both met up back in Zvidureth. Trying to hide his excitement, Fletcher unrolled a large paper on the table for her to look over with him. With a smile he let her know that he had made a couple of acquaintances during his trip through Deglos, and what they were looking at were the plans for a legitimate shop, and a home for the two of them. With her help, he made the necessary changes that they both agreed upon, and explained his business plan to her in the best detail he could.
Soon enough, Fletcher was sealing the agreement to renovate one of the nearby houses with a dwarf (who shook his hand a little too hard), and a gnome (who shook his hand about 25 times too many) who promised that he would be "amazed, satisfied, astounded, on time, and on budget". Playing on the nickname of "The Man of Opportunity", he decided to call the shop "Opportunity Knocks". He also now called Zvidureth "Home".
In the time since setting up the shop, Fletcher has made a modest sum of gold through sales, auctions, and delivery services, all while continuing to promote his business. As a result, many individuals have begun to seek him out to act as an auctioneer for their goods, as well as rent storage on his shelves for the sale of their items. Because of his continuing respect for Hurine (despite his having converted to Dru'El), Fletcher often will readily agree, and stresses both honest business practices and good profit, priding himself on making millionaires out of those he does business with.
"I hate uniforms. I hate badges, sashes, medals, or any form of clothing that tells me what to do, or who to address as my superior. But, I love killing those slaving bastards enough, that I guess I'll be a hypocrite about it."
Word had reached Zvidureth in bits and pieces, and it was a disturbing story to say the least. Thorfinn and Ellowin had somehow been taken prisoner and tortured in a Shaahesk fort located deep in the M'chekian warzone. A combined effort of soldiers and civilians (granted, they were powerful mages) had gotten them free, but the pair had suffered greatly at the hands of their captors.
The news bothered Fletcher deepy, as he had enjoyed being around the two of them, and considered them among his friends. And so it was, on that fateful afternoon when smiling elf in the Le'Nofaythen uniform came calling, that he found Fletcher on his 5th ale brooding outside of the Leaping Stag among the other recruits and potential recruits. After sending his fledgling troops into the barracks to await their mission, the Senior Rangermaster Ril Deneth appraised the drinking human a moment and began his pitch. At first, Fletcher more or less waved off the idea, but then considered how many of his friends were serving T'Nanshi, and the good that he could do alongside them. So, with a shrug, he entered the barracks and found himself among the recruits of the 22d Division.
After many patrols and missions, the call came for the time-honored tradition of pilfering soldiers away from Ril. The Senior Rangermaster joked about how they were always robbing him of his best troops, but he also appeared quite proud of them. Among the group, Fletcher's name was called, and together he and his friends were transferred out of the 22d Division to the elite 6th Division to continue their service to the Spiritland.
No, Really, Kill the Messenger
"...Get over it, Fletcher"
-Mali, aka "The Messenger"
Demon attacks are rarely something that go unnoticed. To the contrary, they have quite the effect on people as groups from all over will muster their forces to combat (or, unfortunately sometimes aid) them. News of one or two attacks had been spreading around, and reached the ears of the Man of Opportunity. He heard the name of "Mali" and her description, and recalled seeing her on an excursion into the Underdark of M'chek with a group not too long ago. She did seem rather fixated on Thaylis, he knew that much. Almost as though he owed her, or someone else, something. Then again, who makes a deal with a demon?
The next time that he saw Mali was between Zvidureth and the Fairy Gardens on the way to Elysia. A large group was in combat against many succubi and other demons, so Fletcher jumped into the fray to try to help out. The demons were defeated with some work, and Mali disappeared while a taunting voice spoke on the wind. What was left behind was a young girl who had been slain by Mali's hand. However, when they attempted to call her soul back, her body merely disintegrated into dust. The death of the child left many of the combatants in a somber mood, regardless of the victory.
It wasn't too long after that when Fletcher was in his usual spot in Zvidureth, drinking among his friends when Mali appeared yet again, right in front of the group. Killing a young child effortlessly, she began to taunt them. Fletcher saw a chance and snuck up behind her and began attacking her as best he could, the thought of the murders she had committed driving him to great fury. Just when he thought he had her, she swiftly dropped him, sending him bleeding into unconsciousness.
His pride was still stinging, and his ego a bit wounded when he arrived in Elysia a few days later to see she had appeared yet again, and it appeared the focus of her attention was Geris, and more specifically Helene. While watching the exchange, Fletcher shot off a couple of sarcastic insults and glowered. Mali laughed him off and continued her speech, before walking into Elysia itself. Many chased her to attack her, yet she was warded against their attacks. Finally, one of Le'Megen's own officers, Torok, tackled her to the ground, attempting to hold her in place to be taken to the cells. Mali responded by wiggling her fingers and vanishing once again. In the conversation following it, Fletcher expressed his desire to end her threat by whatever means possible to Geris and Thorfinn, and headed home to prepare himself for the upcoming auctions at the Trade Fair in Ferrell.
At the Fair, while enjoying a drink and resting from a busy day of browsing other merchant stalls, Fletcher was approached by a man in Annihilator armor, calling himself "Snakebite". Snakebite offered a chance at finishing off Mali, telling Fletcher in hushed tones of a mission he was planning in the next few days to take her down. Fletcher readily agreed, and was told to await word of when and where to meet.
The evening of the meeting, Fletcher arrived as designated and saw Snakebite and Thorfinn approaching. Several others joined in, especially after Ji'mas arrived talking about a group of demons that had fortified themselves within the old Sereg caves. Together, they all set out in that direction, looking to complete their mission.
The fighting was difficult at times, and quite deadly the rest of the time. Finally, they made their way into the tower, and fought their way to Mali herself. Below is Fletcher's account of it to Thienna of the Blue:
I can confirm that this is true.
I did not post up a notice, as I thought others who are good with a tale, or acting in a more "official" capacity might do so before me. However, I shall try to tell the tale from what my own eyes saw.
Snakebite approached me at the Fair, and offered the chance to go on a mission that he was putting together to end Mali's threat once and for all. I readily agreed, and awaited word of where and when to meet. At the appointed time, a group of us set out from Zvidureth to where Ji'mas had seen an unusual gathering of many demons. It was an old Sereg hideout, and it was swarming with them.
The Speaker, Finn, was there at the front, as is his custom, fighting alongside Snakebite. The undead warriors who inhabit the hideout tried to push us back, but we persisted. Aside from the four of us already mentioned, Dru'El's children were well-represented with El'gos, Dru'Antia, Raine, Varion, Aramil also known as Bubba(?) and they called upon his strength to help us through. I got my ass kicked a lot faced many challenges on the mission, as did we all.
Finally, deep underground, we saw the tower in the distance. We heard the treacherous voice of Mali warning us to turn back. We heard the screams of children... but we would not be denied, not this time. We fought our way to the tower through demonic things most foul. It was too high and steep to try climbing the outside, so we had to take the direct route through the front door. The stairs themselves held much trickery, and one could climb forever if not for finding the true doorway that led to the correct passage. Along these stairs we found the bodies of young children, girls, simply cast away. Rather than breaking our spirit, it steeled our resolve to finish this once and for all.
We fought to the top of the tower, where there was a summoning circle full of dead children, all female, and a library with 2 young girls who were still alive. Mali then appeared and began her speech, chastising Snakebite for choices that he made of a personal nature. I managed to slip alongside her in the shadows, got the drop on her, and on a nod from Snakebite we both struck. My blades struck true, but his struck with an even more impressive and deadly force... and she fell to him.
Snakebite asked Finn and the others to collect the children, alive and dead, and bring them out of the tower. He and I stayed behind to clean up (I in the study, he in the summmoning room) and then we left to meet the others outside.
When we arrived outside, a most joyous thing met my eyes. The children, all of them, were alive and giggling as children are known to do. By his divine grace, Dru'El had returned these children. At least, that's how I think it happened, there was definitely a lot of thanking him going around. We found ourselves back in Cornath Dru'El with the sixteen young girls (all named Sara?) falling asleep on poor Brightclaw (who didn't seem to mind so much, for a bear).
We paid our respects and thanks to those who had lost so much, and given so much, then celebrated what we had gained: the return of the children, and the end of Mali.
My sincere thanks to those who fought Mali and her demons at any and every opportunity they could leading up to this.
May Hurine bless your business, and bring you good fortune,
~Fletcher Millstone, Man of Opportunity
P.S. Oh yeah, I got a new kukri! That's a good thing too, right?
Surprisingly, what brought Fletcher the greatest joy from the mission was not the end of Mali, but rather the 16 children that the group had saved through their combined efforts, and safely returned back to their parents, through the grace of Dru'El.
But the threat was not quite over, as another layer in the story of Helene was revealed, in the form of Lord Nekas'rof, also known as the demon Azlae. He was freed from a longtime prison and was looking for Helene... and Geris.
From Student to Teacher
"Don't tell me she snuck up on you in broad daylight, Dav, otherwise I'm robbing your store while you're busy crafting"
A few months passed, and Fletcher was once again alone, with Ace having up and vanished some time ago. He had looked for her everywhere, finding no clues and no answers. Eventually he gave up, and he did what he did best to get over it... he threw himself into his work full force.
The 6th Division had given Fletcher many chances to improve upon his scouting and Shadowplay skills, often assigning both he and Davilia to forge ahead and report back with intel from the front to the rest of the patrol. It was during these missions that he noticed the lack of good signaling, and the two scouts offered to put together an easier method for people to recognize what lay ahead of them. Over the coming weeks, they worked out a series of hand signals as well as audible signals to relay information, and began testing them out during training exercises with the group.
In private, Fletcher had also been considering taking on select members of Le'Nofaythen as students, so that they too could become able scouts. Beyond even that, he wished to teach the most talented of them the way of shadows, to improve their skills even further. Also, taking on students privately could be a good way to find new talent for the 6th Division, at least he hoped so.
Fletcher shared the idea with Davilia and Woodmistress Morishi Gallendt, and put together his proposal to send to the High Command. He then set about preparing his training room for better instruction of students, adding more targets and adjusting the existing ones, laying out a small combat arena in the middle of the floor, and most of all... removing all lanterns and candles so that the area was in complete darkness.
While awaiting word on the proposed official training, Fletcher took on his first student, brought to him by Davilia: a young recruit to the 6th by the name of Ashling. With his help, she was soon able to grasp the concepts behind shadowplay, and soon she too was practicing the same tactics on the front lines.
A second student, Rattan Shadowcaster of the Red Order of the Flame soon approached him. Rattan was a practitioner of Shadow Matter Illusions, much like Oorayv, and was looking to expand his knowledge. Fletcher, on the other hand, was eager to discuss more about the topic of shadows and shadow magic in general. While it seemed odd to be teaching a mage of such things, the similarities between the two talents was enough to create a common ground to work from. Fletcher and Rattan trained together for some time, and the lessons ended with both men considerably more knowledgeable in their chosen art form.
Since the beginning few students, Fletcher's instruction has been passed on to many more, and there are quite a few notable Shadowdancers who can claim him as their teacher.
The Battle of Slaver's Run
"Ta tee'ayzav T'Nanshi oo ta tee'moot!"
("You will leave T'Nanshi or you will die!")
The war was taking up much of Fletcher's time, and what little remained of the day was often spent keeping up with sales and auctions. It was just as well, he figured, it kept his mind off of other things. He worried for his family back in M'chek, for one thing. Though Southill was far removed from the front lines, the impact of the war was felt all over the nation of his birth. There was talk of squabbling between the various nobles, and rumors of actual dissent. To make matters worse, the bugbears in the Warrens had become more aggressive, and the Shaahesk continued to pound the area as the Blackhawks pushed back with equal ferocity.
Still, none of this weighed as heavily on him as his wondering of what had happened to Ace. It had been several months, and not a word or sighting of her. Fletcher knew that if she wanted to, she could make it so no one could find her. The question was...why? He had searched practically all of T'Nanshi, down into Elysia with no luck. Eventually, he reluctantly accepted that she probably wasn't coming back and decided to get on with things. So, he threw himself fully into his work, focusing his entire drive on improving his skills as a soldier. Killing by the hundreds became tolerable, then easy, then an afterthought.
The missions that Fletcher took the greatest interest in was the raiding of known slave trafficking areas. Many slaves (and even some captured Le'Nofaythen soldiers) had been cut free of their imprisonment on ventures that he had been part of. In a war that dragged on, with little headway no matter the toll on the enemy side, bringing home one of the lost to their family and friends was a measurable accomplishment, and at least differentiated one day from the other.
One such mission began innocently enough. There were calls in the taverns to raise donations to purchase the freedom of captured slaves from the Shaahesk in the Underdark. These postings were met with a mixture of ridicule, outrage, and support. A second call came from a former T'Nanshi soldier, Earar Di'mana, to free as many slaves as possible by force. Fletcher immediately made plans to go, not only to help out, but to see what sort of group showed up.
The size of the force that assembled that night was quite large, made up of people from all over, including some that Fletcher had never seen before. Together, they set out for Slaver's Run in Northeast T'nanshi, fighting off bandits along the way who had decided to take advantage of the situation. When they finally reached their destination, a Shaahesk war cry rose up from behind the trees and many of the Drotid Elite soldiers poured into the clearing on foot, flying on the backs of wyverns, and riding large reptiles known as Jechera. Fletcher slashed down the first Shaahesk to reach him as the battle erupted full tilt. Among the enemy numbers, he spotted Rhissaerk, Isskaa, and a couple of others whose names he would learn later. Dodging blades and arrows, and striking down anything that looked like an enemy, he found himself in a battle of pure chaos. In the end, however, the Shaahesk were defeated and withdrew, leaving the group to tend to the wounded and press on.
After many skirmishes inside the caverns, they found themselves at the bottom of the Slaver's run, and rushed to free the slaves. To their surprise, there weren't any. They combed the area and noticed tracks on the floor pointing to a mass exodus of people down the tunnel to Shaah Sulegah. Magus Archibald Thel then set to destroying the supports in the cave network and the group rushed to the surface as the tunnel collapsed behind them. They regrouped at the fort, and divided the spoils seized from the Shaahesk forces. While the volunteers had not rescued any slaves on this particular mission, they had put a dent in the slaving operations in the area, and sent a message to the Shaahesk.
Hunter and Prey
(Upon meeting Fletcher) "I didn't think you'd be so..." "Tall?" " Fen. Tall."
-Pan'na Stormcloud & Fletcher Millstone
Finn and Ell approached Fletcher one day with an idea they had come up with. Over time, they had accumulated many different trinkets of various uses, as well as an assortment of weapons and armor. From this, they had split it into two piles. One was to be auctioned by Fletcher, if he wished, with the proceeds going to build a shrine to Dru'El in Mikona (in memory of Anspach). The other was going to be sorted out and set up at the Moon Tree for a one day giveaway to any in need of the items.
With the auction in full swing, the giveaway day arrived soon after. Fletcher gathered a few items to donate to the cause, and made his way to Le'Or. After meeting many of the people who came to look over the goods (and being accosted by Stella the fairy, who chided him for missing his appointment at Mi-Mi's House of Style, and sat him down so she could work on his hair right then and there), Fletcher was relaxing with an ale when he saw an Avariel looking at him from across the way. Introducing himself to her, he learned that her name was Pan'na, and she had actually been looking for him for some time. Intrigued by this, Fletcher motioned to a table away from the crowd where they could talk.
As it turned out, Pan'na was a huntress, following the old ways of Pelar, and also wished to join Le'Nofaythen. Fletcher suggested speaking to Finn and Ell about it, as they were both Rangermasters, but spoke at length about his own role in Le'Nofaythen, and answered as many questions as he could. Pan'na then asked him about becoming a student of his, which was the reason she sought him out personally on advice from her father. After explaining the few rules and expectations he had of any students studying with him, Fletcher agreed to take her on. At the time, he considered her just another student under his guidance.
Yet, there was something to the way her eyes twinkled when she smiled, and the way her wings would flutter a bit when she laughed at the stories he told... it set him at ease, and on edge at the same time.
Army of Two
(After casting Greater Heroism on Fletcher) "There. Now, go talk to her"
Weeks had passed, and Fletcher had been training Pan'na as a scout for Le'Nofaythen and teaching her the finer points of stealth. Archibald approached him with an invitation to a costume party he had been planning at his new house (and private beach) in the Dwarfhome area. After some hesitation, a death-defying ride on a Nightmare, and a little help from Archi and Thienna, Fletcher approached Pan'na, who agreed to go with him.
Back at his house, while the two trained, they discussed the upcoming party, and other trivial things. Finally, Fletcher found his courage and spoke honestly with her about himself and how he felt regarding her. Pan'na, as it turned out, felt the same and had for some time. And so it was, that Fletcher found himself in love once again.
Pan'na continued to train with him, growing stronger and more adept at using her kukris. Soon, she too had learned the art of shadows from Fletcher, and the couple would hunt together constantly as an "Army of Two" (something that she was fond of calling them). As the relationship between the two young Nanshi soldiers blossomed further, Pan'na eventually moved into the house with him, and began helping him run Opportunity Knocks, while making sure he actually ate real food once in a while.
The Treasure of Dragonbeard Beardaxe
"Anyone want to go on a treasure hunt?"
One evening, Fletcher was set to take his usual spot outside of the Leaping Stag to enjoy some ale and wine with the regular crowd. It was then that he spotted a dwarven fellow headed into his shop, and went to go and greet him. He and the dwarf spoke of an old family item that the dwarf had, a map to a long forgotten tomb, that the dwarf wished to sell to Fletcher in order to finance his sister's dowry. He asked for 20,000 gold coins, and Fletcher insisted on giving him 25,000. It was for his sister after all, and it appeared the Beardaxe clan (where the dwarf claimed to hail from) had fallen on dire times. The dwarf shrugged off the idea of getting the treasure on his own, and instead left it to Fletcher and whoever he wished to bring with him to do with the map what they would.
The map itself felt quite old to the touch, and a quick glance of it under a magnifying glass showed that the ink was also old. From what Fletcher could determine, it was genuine. It was a fine item to be kept on display, or protected from further deterioration, but given that it was a treasure map, he felt he had to see if it was still worth following. So it was that he ended up back outside and among the drinking crowd, calling for volunteers. Fletcher knew he could count on many of them to go just for the adventure alone, but offered a share of any spoils as well. In no time they had a large group of treasure hunters, setting forth for where the map seemed to begin...in the Underdark.
On the way, they were waylaid by some bandits that inhabit the corkscrew, as well as some of the famed Spider Cult. The attackers were dispatched, with relative ease. The group eventually came upon a cleric of Ptah, fleeing from some huge Earth Elementals. After they took care of the danger, the cleric repaid them by speeding everyone along closer to their destination. From there, Fletcher could see that the map was lining up a bit better with his surroundings, and in no time they were closing in on their target. A bit of searching around and sweeping away of dust revealed a hole down to where the tomb was said to lay.
They soon found themselves in a long winding cavern filled with flying eyes and larger eyeballs. Magic, blades, and lots of arrows took care of that problem. Finally, they found a chest. After checking it for traps... Fletcher opened it to find ... it was empty.
The group looked around some more and found there was yet another hole, leading down. Fletcher figured maybe someone had taken the treasure, or was guarding it further down. So, down they went into yet another cavernous place, filled with even more eyeballs, flying eyes, and now even some beholders. At the end of the tunnel, we found a set of stairs leading downand headed down, carefully. After fighting more of the Beholder kin, the treasure hunters found a walkway that led to a set of 3 bridges, and as they crossed they came upon a huge swarm of the giant eyed horrors. The monsters engaged the group from all sides, so they split off and took every mob of attackers on at once, finally emerging victorious before a sealed tomb... the final resting place of Dragonbeard Beardaxe.
Finn set about to recovering the treasure, after Fletcher checked for any traps or surprises, and just when they were getting to leave the ghost of Dragonbeard Beardaxe himself appeared before them all, giving off a chill most dire. He seemed upset that his sarcophagus had been smashed in the fight, and wished his bones to be put to rest somewhere else nearby. If he was refused... he would curse them so that their ale never had alcohol in it! His words brought a grim pallor to the faces of the adventurers, and they quickly set about to collecting his bones and returning them to a final resting place. They used the sarcophagus a skeleton who had leapt out at them further back in the tunnels. Fletcher decided they should say a few words for Dragonbeard, and uttered a hastily made up dwarven "prayer", before they laid the bones to rest and made their way back to the shrine of Ptah. There, they split their treasure up as promised and headed their separate ways. As for the map, Fletcher held on to it, to display in his trophy case at home for anyone who wished to know the story behind it.
Joining the SATF
"If any of you get any closer you better be payin' me or kissin' me!"
Following the first of the Ferrell Trade Fairs that he had attended, Fletcher spoke with Smeec regarding joining the South Avlis Trade Federation (SATF). By this time, he had proven himself to be a good businessman, and an honest dealer, and was accepted into the fold. For his initiation, Fletcher acted as Master of Ceremonies of the next Trade Fair, running the auction day, and providing information about the Fair. Added to this, he also ran his own stall at the fair and auctioned many items for people as well. It was at this fair that Fletcher would take Pan'na on a walk through Ferrell and propose to her with a diamond and platinum ring that he had made for her on his own.
A Tale of Two Demons
"Loo ye'moot besvel za'awl..."
("He will die for all of this...")
Following Mali's demise, and the arrival of Azlae, things had turned from bad to worse. Women began missing from all over, all fitting a certain description: dark haired, with eyes of varying shades of blue. A break in the mystery came when the 6th Division rescued a young woman who had been drugged. As it turned out, she was the niece of Buck Rowan (a well-known ranger living in Cor'Vallen. The woman, named Mary, was a bit groggy but described Azlae quite well. The patrol brought her to her uncle to recover, and continued their search knowing now who was behind it. Mary, however, was one of the few lucky ones.
Soon after, Azlae himself appeared in Zvidureth, to talk and gloat. Fletcher asked him point blank about the women, and Azlae admitted to seducing them and stealing their souls. When Fletcher asked about the bodies, he shrugged and said he left them for the local wildlife. He then turned his attention to Raine, capturing her under a spell, and trying to seduce her away from her friends. Incensed, Fletcher leapt at the demon with both blades, and was frustrated to find that Azlae (like Mali before him), could not be harmed... for had taken part of Mali's soul, and now had the same runes protecting him. Finn and the others joined in immediately and Azlae vanished...bringing forth some of his minions to attack the town. They were defeated, but this soon became a pattern. Azlae would show up, Fletcher and the others would almost immediately attack him, he would flee and they would fight off his minions. The Herald of Dru'El, Nanshileeshan'Yerak (affectionately known as "Nan"), also continued to aid those fighting against the demon wherever she could.
However, yet another demon had made his presence known: The Balefire Demon, Nixtixu. Fletcher first saw him at Elf Gate in Elysia, storming through and claiming that the Pyromancer Vintrinia Carnen had set him free, and that he had burned her horribly as a result. Though the many present at Elf Gate attacked with all of their might, they could not begin to harm the fiery behemoth. Nixtixu took to attacking villages and camps, seeking domination over all.
During this time, it was revealed that Geris was completely incapacitated, due to a ritual gone wrong (as Fletcher understood it), and not even able to feed himself. Helene, however, had now fallen in love with Ves'drac, and soon she was pregnant with twins. With his plans of using Helene to fully free himself dashed, Azlae chose for himself a new queen, Vintrinia. He set his sights on Nixtixu, hoping that by absorbing the Balefire Demon's essence, he would finally be freed. All the while, a plan began to form, to rid the world of both demons.
Azlae, while demanding that people help him, did not slow in his attacks on Zvidureth, Elysia, and Blandenberg. In a most defiant move, he struck down the Orphanage in Blandenberg, leaving all dead, including Thorfinn's mother. The next day, while those who were there gathered in Zvidureth to tell the tale, undead and demons began to attack yet again. While they fought back the menace, Fletcher looked up on the hill...and saw Azlae smiling down at them. He charged up the hill, and attacked the demon, who draw a weapon of his own and attacked back. With neither able to best the other, both fell back. Azlae vanished, but not before summoning in more of his forces for the town to fight off.
Finally, the day came for the plan to be put into action. Vintrinia sent word to those that she was in contact with, and a good sized force gathered near Mayer Pass in M'chek to take on not only Nixtixu's forces, but those of Azlae as well. The plan was clear (though unknown to many in the group): Vintrinia would target Nixtixu with her spells, and once he was dead...Azlae would gather his essence and be freed. Though a great risk, it would also tie him to the plane, thus making him able to be killed. His wards, however, would still function. Though the battle was fierce (and Azlae appeared in his true form, towering over everything at a good 35 to 40 feet tall), Nixtixu finaly fell as Vintrinia blasted him repeatedly. That was where the second piece of the plan came in, even more risky than the first.
Ves'drac, for reasons still somewhat confusing to Fletcher, had apparently decided to sacrifice himself for the good of his family. Impossible as it seemed, he was willing to commit a selfless act, his final act, to take down Azlae's wards, and allow the group to hopefully defeat the demon once and for all. So, as Azlae stood in triumph and demanded that those assembled kneel before him... a portal of white light opened and Ves'drac stepped forth in plain view. Azlae swiftly grabbed the mage, who responded by doing nothing at all to defned himself. Grinning, Azlae crushed Ves'drac's body into nothing, killing him instantly...and then suddenly he faltered.
Screaming at Vintrinia for her betrayal as his wards fell, Azlae was set upon by everyone who fought to bring him down. As they began to get the better of him, Azlae took off into the sky, before crashing down on the group for a second fight. This time, he would not get away. With a final roar, he collapsed to the ground, finished.
Nan arrived, and surveyed the scene before taking up the demons possessions, and watching Azlae's body crumble into dust. Pieces of whatever was left of Nixtixu lay strewn around the battlefield, and she bid those present to take a piece for themselves in remembrance of the battle, while calling for Fletcher and several others to follow her to Blandenberg, where she removed the taint from Azlae's personal artifacts. She then bestowed one on each person as a reward, giving the boots to Fletcher, urging him to always remember the importance of friendship and hope.
Fletcher, taking Nan's advice to heart, distributed a letter far and wide, telling of the events he had seen.
Dru'el Berath Loe
"It's about time!"
Throughout his early days in T'Nanshi, and all of his experiences, one thing had remained constant with Fletcher: his devotion to Hurine. Lately, however, he had felt himself caught in a crisis of faith. It wasn't that he felt that Hurine's teachings were unsuitable, but more that he felt himself outgrowing them. For business, they were as fine a guide as one could get, he reasoned. For his personal goals...not so much. He felt conflicted about some of the decisions he was making, and the effects they had on those he considered friends. It was just business, sure, but to them...it mattered. He looked inwards, searching for an answer to the conflict, and began to come to a startling conclusion. How he treated people, his care of the land around him, and his own personal calling were following not Hurine... but a more obvious choice.
His friends had often spoken of Dru'El to him, and of course many of his closest friends followed The Father. Nan teasingly referred to him as a "Dru'Elite in denial", and a celestial, Dru'El's Judgement had told Fletcher point blank that though he did not follow Dru'El, he had his favor through his actions. The defeat of Azlae solidified his feeling even further, and the business with Wrath confirmed it for him.
Fletcher first visited the Temple of Hurine in Visimontium. Bowing his head in prayer, he vowed to continue to spread her word in business, but that much of his potential lay beyond the threshold of his shop. Her shrine would remain in the storefront, as a constant reminder of Hurine's blessings to all who entered. He left one last donation, and thanked her for all she had done.
Next, he traveled back home, entering Cornath Dru'El and looking around the temple. He felt surprisingly calm with his decision, stepping forward to the priestess and taking the oath. He was now a child of Dru'El, and set out to do his work.
Marriage to Pan'na Stormcloud
I think if Fletcher says no... we're in trouble...
The day had finally arrived for Fletcher and Pan'na to be wed. For the wedding party, Fletcher had chosen Finn, Archibald, Varion, and Leo as his groomsmen, while Pan'na had chosen Thienna, Rode, Kaeleigh, and Ashleigh as her bridesmaids (Finn and Thienna served as the Best Man and Matron of Honor, respectively). Archibald had volunteered the use of his private beach for the wedding, and Nan had volunteered her services for the wedding.
As the ceremony began, Fletcher's jaw dropped at the sight of his bride. Pan'na had arrived across the bridge with her maidens, all armed with weapons and rope, as a classic hunting party (a tradition of Pelarites). Nan then began the ceremony with a blessing of the two, and spoke a bit of both of their faiths. When the time came to speak his vows, Fletcher surprised much of the crowd by giving his promise in fluent (though practiced) Nanshilae...
|Poam, hayti hoodel. Cha'shooli hayloe reyk.
Li oomanti Eni e'yucol ralah le'hod meen oohevas goodel ni besvel ni.
Foe, ool yoom'za, aeleh hoovairen'shoolu v'mespahen'shoolu, temoyith'shooli loo za...
|Once, I was alone. My heart was empty.|
I didn't believe I could find the one who would love me for me.
Here, on this day, before our friends and families, my promise is this...
Following the ceremony, Fletcher and Pan'na celebrated with their friends and family, listening to music perfomed by the band (and a song from both Sher'cha and Danga Spiketongue). When the last of the guests had departed, they then set out for home together as usual, only this time it would be as husband and wife.
...the story continues soon...
Fletcher will teach Shadowdancing to just about any character who wishes to learn. However, priority is given to members of Le'Nofaythen (including recruits), and enemies of T'Nanshi are a definite no. The roleplay and training should be a 2 way thing, I'm looking to get as much fun out of it as I can, and hope that training your character is fun as well. The amount of time n the training is not too long at all, and generally depends on your character's development.
Le'Nofaythen Scout Training
On missions for Le'Nofaythen, Dav and Fletcher are usually the 2 scouts, and will bring along any currently training scouts/additional scouts. Hand signals through emotes and other techniques are practiced. While not complicated, being a scout for Le'Nofaythen can be a rewarding bit of fun as you act as the eyes and ears of the patrol. PM me with any questions, IC or OOC, I'm interested in how other groups scout/report IG.
I do a lot of IC auctions, mostly with other people's items that they're asking me to sell for them. If you're looking to have something auctioned, sold, appraised... find me IG or send me a PM to meet up. Playing a merchant with a respect of the teachings of Hurine has been a big piece of Fletcher's character, so I'm glad to get involved in things like this.
"To the victor go the spoils!"
Irreverence Awards 2009:
The Zombie Award (Honorable Mention)
The Packrat Prize
The Big, Shiny Prize
Roleplayer of the Month:
January 2010 (T-1st)
July 2009 (2nd)
March 2009 (T-2nd)