The Chosen Five
Ethran and Sam'ael
As she entered the newly renovated room, Etheran glanced about. No matter how secure her men assured her the room was, she would never be at ease near the Gateway. Unfortunately, as captain of the guard, it was her responsibility to inspect all areas. Unofficially, her role had recently become to service as liaison between the Sam’ael’s Guardians and the town of Fallcrest. Although all were in agreement that Sam’ael’s presence could only mean good things for the citizenry, the intensity that he had adopted recently had put the city as a whole reluctant to approached the eternally armored warlord. Etheran alone seemed unaffected by his presence. In fact, the entrance of the comely warrior never failed to lighten the gloomy tiefling’s mood. Moving with easy grace, Etheran quickly closed the distance between she and Sam. She sighed when she spotted him looking deeply within the gateway. More and more often she found herself worried about her old friend. Sam had always been more introspective than most; a fact she chalked up to his mixed heritage and perennial status as an outsider. For as long as she could remember, Sam’ael’s infernal heritage had kept others from getting to know him the way she had. Their friendship, and short lived romance had come easily; perhaps it had been the polar nature of their situations; he was the son of a well respected but feared general while her good looks and friendly personality seemed to always make her the center of attention. But this was not the time for retrospection; Sam’ael was clearly in crisis. Every day for the last two weeks he had spent his days here, near the portal. For hours at a time he stared within, clearly captivated by it’s swirling luminosity, and as the days elapsed, he had since become more and more detached. Most recently, there was something about the way the portal’s light caught his slightly angular eyes, that worried her.
Perhaps more than anyone, Sam’ael confided in her: she knew about his studies into the Hellpath Tome, she knew the responsibility he felt for Fallcrest and even about his fear of what he believed was an inevitable fall to his devilish heritage. There recent trip to recover a missing page of his tome had led them to the outskirts of Vor Kragal; the unearthed treatise had further confirmed his suspicion of family’s direct involvement with the Tiefling’s curse. Since that time, he had seemed both crestfallen and determined to lead Fallcrest to victory. Even the acquisition of the marvelous spear he now grasped seemed to do little to shake the malaise that had fallen over him.
For as long as she could remember he had been prone to fits of anger. Under his father’s harsh tutoring he had learned to control the exterior manifestation of his rage, but to her familiar eye, she had always easily seen the rising emotion lurking beneath his stony exterior. Although she knew better than anyone that the Tiefling would make his own decisions, she could not help but feel a sense of responsibility. She’d have to be blind not to notice how much he had come to rely on her. But even so, she was finding it more and more difficulty to spend time with her oldest friend. It seemed that he had become near obsessed with his mission to conquer The Chosen Five. And as he grew more and more eager to engage his foes, he had become more moody. Just yesterday while sparring, Sam’ael had become violently angry when she defeated him during their sparring. She had been taken aback; despite the hours he spent practicing and the years of sparring together, Sam’ael always lost their training sessions. Up until now, being the intelligent soldier he was, Sam had always looked at each loss as a chance to learn. His continued defeats were not a reflection of his skill; indeed she often shook her head in awe at her friend’s skill with his spear. When his undeniable prowess was combined with his unmatched combat acumen, there was little doubt in her mind; despite technically outranking him, Sam’ael was born to command and when the final battle broke out, it would be Sam’ael calling the orders. Nevertheless, while she would never match his leadership skills, there was not a person that had presented themselves would could defeat her in single combat….although to be honest, she had not yet dared faced Kaz. The fury and sheer pleasure that the massive minotaur approached fights was blatant enough for her to question if the minotaur understood, “blunt ends only.” Men had come from miles around to challenge her…all too often her shapely body and chiseled looks led men to believe she had “earned” her position in the bedroom and not the battlefield. Although she was loathe to admit it, there was little in this word she enjoyed more than swiftly destroying these doubters.
Shaking her head and tossing her fiery hair from her eyes, she reached out to tap Sam’ael’s armored shoulder. When he did not initially respond, Etheran poked a bit harder, assuming the dwarven chain he wore blocked contact. Still, the Tiefling did not stir, his horned away remained fixed to the portal. “Sam…”, nothing….”Sam…the town’s leadership council is ready for today’s briefing….SAM!” Her raised voice seemed to finally shake the warlord from his reverie, “I’m sorry Etheran” shifting to his feet, “I’m sorry Etheran ...I was…I was planning. Tell the council I will be with them momentary.” Seeing her concerned gaze, the young warrior consciously slowed his speech and squared his shoulders, “I apologize….really I’m fine. It is good to see you. As always, thank you for coming to get me. I know you are far more than a mere go-between. But if you could, please ask my team mates to join us. I fear we the time has come to leave.” As Etheran turned to go, she felt Sam’ael mailed hand on her shoulder and as he became to softly speak her flesh erupted in goosebumps. Turning about, she felt his warm breath on her neck, “Etheran, you remember what we talked about?” Ethran’s shoulders slumped, “not again Sam. I’ve told you before, you are being melodramatic and I will not speak of this.!” “Please…you’re the only one I trust with this, you’re the only one I trust entirely. Our history has tied us together, I fear I’ve been nothing but a burden to you, but I hear you say it. You know my studies have led me down some dark paths. My infernal heritage has been fully awakened, and while I may very well be overreacting, I need to know you will be here. I need to hear you say that you are ready if I fail.” Sighing, Ethran, softly affirmed, “Yes Sam’ael. If you fail, I will finish what you started. If you fall, I will not rest until you are dead. Now please, let us go, you are well aware of the damage a bored Kaz is capable of.” HIs crimson lips cracked into a smile, ” Very true…as always, wise as well as beautiful.”