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Rescue And Union

-Part One-

By Onsha


The dying light of the day was not enough to brighten the dark room. The musty smell of old books filled the study. High Lord Sharon felt comfortable sitting among the ancient books. It gave him a sense of peace. Shanzena knew this and knew she would find him there. The sound of her slipper-clad feet alerted her father to her arrival.

"Hello, daughter," His voice betrayed the stress and the fatigue.

Her suspicions had been right. Earlier a messenger from the Great Temple had brought an important message to Sharon. When he had read the letter his breathing had taken on a quicker pace, almost as if he was angered by something. She knew that, even though she could not see, her father's face would be flushed by fury. She had a suspicion of what the note read, but she didn't want to speculate until she talked to him herself. " Hello Father." She made her way cautiously through the room; her hands ready to detect obstacles. " You seemed ill at ease this afternoon. Is the news from the Temple that bad?"

She heard the rustle of fabric as her father moved to place a loving hand on his daughter's cheek. "My dear, Shanzena, is there nothing your ears cannot detect?" There was a brief pause as he let his hand drop. " Yes, the news brought from the temple is grave indeed." He took a deep breath before continuing. " They have captured a Desert Spirit. They are going to sacrifice it to the God in the morning."

Shanzena covered her mouth and let out a gasp of shock. " How did they get it?"

Sharon shook his head. " I do not know. All I know is they have it." He moved to window and looked down to the courtyard. As he spoke he watched people scurry here and there. " Unfortunately, the Resistance isn't ready for this. We hadn't planned on this happening so soon." His voice took on a tone of frustration. " When we heard the rumors of Spirits returning to the desert. That's all we took them for ... rumors."

With the grace due a lady, Shanzena moved to her father's side. She took his hand in her. " What are you going to do? Are you going to help the Spirit?"

" Of course I am." There was determination in that voice. " Ever since your mother and I saved Mellar from a similar fate we have sworn to help the Spirits." Anger filled his voice as he continued. " The Priest had told us the Spirits were inhuman, but they bleed ... just like us. The Priest is more inhuman then the Spirits. "

A sad smile lit Shanzena's face, but she did not say a word as her father went silent.

After a moment he shook himself and took a deep breath. "Go get Mellar and Aldris ... I need to speak with them on this." With a curtsy and not another word, she went to do his bidding.

Elsewhere...

The sound of water dripping and darkness greeted her as she awoke. She moved to sit up and moaned as her head throbbed. " Winds take me." She muttered as she finished sitting upright. She gently rubbed the sore spot on the back of her skull.

A soft chuckle drifted through the darkness. " Who's there? Show yourself!" She demanded. The laughter continued becoming an insane cackle. As soon as it started it faded away replaced by the sounds of footfalls and metal against metal.

She brought a hand up to her eyes to block the light that invaded the darkness of what she could now see was some kind of cell. " The Demon is awake, Lord High Priest."

" Then open the door." A voice as smooth as silk floated into the room, followed a moment later by the speaker. She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light. She couldn't see the person's face it was hidden behind a mask of white. The mask was beautiful and almost looked like an elven face. The mask smiled as if mocking her. When the light shone through the eyeholes, fierce green eyes stared back at her. " So Demon ... you tried to set loose slaves of our God?"

The captive frowned, "Slaves of your God?" Her voice was laced with anger. "They were poor souls taken against their will."

His voice remained calm. " No they were taken by the will of our God. They were rebels that plotted against our God. In punishment he sentenced them to be slaves." She was sure he was smiling smugly under the mask as he continued. " He was rather generous I think. I personally would have had them killed, but my God works in mysterious ways."

She shook her head " So what is my punishment to be? The same? Shall I spend the rest of my years a slave to your God?"

He laughed aloud " Of course not! My God wishes you sacrificed to him. Tomorrow, my guards will come for you." Without another word he turned and left. The door shut and the light vanished, leaving the prisoner alone with her thoughts.

** Onsha ... Sahn ... are you all right?!? ** The desperate sending pierced her brain and made her wince as her head flared again.

** Please Halban, my love, do not shout. My head hurts enough already. **

Halban's sending was much quieter when he touched her mind again. ** Are you all right? Secca made it back to the camp and told us what happened. **

Onsha couldn't help, but smile, her Soul Sister was alive. ** She made it? Thank the High Ones. Yes, I'm all right, but I won't be for long. The human's are going to kill me tomorrow as a sacrifice to their God. **

**What?!? We're going to get you out! ** He sounded desperate.

**NO! Stay away from the city. I can't risk any of you, because I was foolish. **

** Foolish is right! ** Yaramon's sending was upset. ** I warned you leave the humans be young Chieftess. **

Onsha sighed and sent back **Tell me all this later. If I get out of this alive. ** She then shut her mind to everyone. She knew that if they could send to her that they were not far outside the city. She hoped that they would not be foolish and try to help her.

Back at Sharon Keep...

" Father? You wanted to see us?"

" Yes, please come in and have a seat." Lord Sharon turned to face his two eldest sons.

Aldris, his heir, was a head taller then himself. Sharon knew he would make a great leader someday, it showed more everyday. He looked over both of his sons. A strong jaw enhanced by the fashionable goatee and thin mustache Aldris sported, made him look distinguished. His warrior physique made him seem unlovable. He looked a leader of men.

His other son, Mellar, adopted, was no taller the five feet. His heritage showed plainly, only marred by the fact his ears appeared normal. That was only because they had them cut like that, when he was a baby.

Both were coconspirators in his plot against the priests. Sharon realized that the priests knew his involvement with the rebels, but there was nothing they could do. Lord Sharon was beloved by the people of the city. If he was murdered the people would lose their faith in the priesthood. After both were seated he settled himself into his chair. " As you have heard the Priest have captured a Desert Spirit." Both nodded. " I have just received word from our contacts within the temple, that the Spirit will be sacrificed tomorrow."

" What?Tomorrow? That gives us hardly anytime to prepare." Aldris said surprised.

Mellar was shocked. " What will we do?"

Lord Sharon let out a deep breath. " It looks like we find out who is reliable within the temple. I will be sending word out to our contacts that it is up to them to get the Spirit out and to us." He turned to Mellar " I need you to go to the meeting place just outside the temple and bring the Spirit here to us. I will not risk letting them know the secret ways into the keep." Mellar only nodded.

Standing, Sharon nods with finality. "Good, let's get this under way shall we, gentlemen?" Both sons stood, bowed to him and took their leave. Alone again, Lord Sharon relaxed back into his chair. "Now my Lord High Priest of Mesardee; it looks like the game has begun."

In the Temple Cells...

Morning came all too soon for Onsha. She came fully awake as the guards entered the cell. One of them sneered at her " Come on, Demon. The wrath of our God awaits." Onsha didn't speak, but got to her feet slowly and followed them out. As she stepped out of her cell, a guard kicked her from behind, causing her to fall to the ground. Another grabbed her painfully by the hair and lifted her up. She let out a gasp of pain and tried to claw his hands loose.

The guards laughed at her " Hey, look she's resisting us." One mocked as he hurled her against a wall. " I think the she-demon needs to be taught a lesson." Her lesson lasted until the threat of unconsciousness was upon her.

" Enough!" The Lord High Priest words cut through the haze of her pain. " Chain her ...it is time." He waited long enough to see his orders were followed before leaving to get ready for the sacrifice.

Onsha tried to clear her thoughts, as the guards placed golden manacles and chains around her wrists. They were obviously made for ceremonious, because they could easily be broken and removed. There was no need for anything stronger with heavily armed guards around. With a strong yank that almost made her fall, the guards took her out of the dungeon and toward her fate.

" Psst ...hey ... you ..." A voice called out to the procession of guards and captive. When they turned toward the sound a man stepped out of the shadows.

" Who are you and what are you doing in the temple?" A guard demanded as his hand moved to the hilt of his sword. Before his fingers found the cold steel he fell over, grasping his stomach, his flesh ripped open by a blade from the other. The remaining guard lunged at him, but misjudged the dexterity of the stranger, who ducked under the attack and buried his blade into the guard's chest. Pulling the sword from the dead soldier the newcomer moved over to Onsha.

"Well ... well ... I never thought I'd run into one of my kind." The stranger let the hood of the cloak drop to reveal the elven features of Mellar. He held up a hand to silence Onsha before she could speak. With ease, he removed the shackles and urged her into the shadows. " We must not stay here. Come on and hurry."

In the Cellar of the Keep...

Lord Sharon hurried down to the cellar. The sound of his boot heels echoed around him. As he hit the bottom of the stairs the smell of old wine and earth reached his nose at the same time the sound of voices could be heard. He stopped in his tracks as he saw the Spirit for the first time. Her eyes were feral looking and the shade of ice ... her gaze seemed to pierce his soul. She looked worse for wear. Purple bruises could be seen on her face, arms, in a fact every exposed part of her flesh was either bruised or bloody. Her pale golden hair was tangled and messy and her clothes in shreds.

Mellar turned to his father and offered a small smile " Father, I'd like you to meet Onsha, Chieftess of the DesertWinds Tribe."

Onsha nodded to Sharon " Good day, Lord Sharon. Your son has been telling me a lot about you and your cause."

Lord Sharon smiled. "Has he now?"

Onsha nodded. " Yes, in fact, I would like to extend my hand in friendship and offer you the aid of my tribe."

Sharon about choked. " What?" He asked. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Onsha approached him slowly and looked up. " I think we could benefit from helping one another. We could take care of slave traders and other hunt parties. You, in turn, could help us by freeing our captured kin."

Lord Sharon lightly rubbed at his beard in thought. " I will have to think on this. I already risk several lives with this rebellion. I would not want to put your tribe at risk."

A smile touched Onsha's cracked lips. " We are already at risk. They know we exist. They will comb the desert looking for me. Their God will be very angry that they lost his sacrifice."

Within the Temple...

The trembling priest was taken away, sentenced to a year in the Pits of the Temple. The High Priest smiled as he sat upon his thrown of office. Elf skulls decorated it nicely, he thought. But to the others it was a sign of insanity. The mask he wore was one that sneered angrily at everyone, because the God was not happy.

The silky smooth voice of his God drifted seemingly from no where. " So she escaped?"

The priest nodded his voice filled with satisfaction. "That she did and now the game begins ..."

Elsewhere in the temple a lowly priest shuttered as the mad laughter of God and High Priest reached his ears.


Part Two of Rescue And Union