Chapter 10: First Sunrise

"It's time to get up Myr!" The voice, it was so far away… "Myrmarch!" Closer now, it sounded familiar… "We must go!" Muddled thoughts and hazy memories of pain ran through his tired mind, but he was comfortable, and let them drift away. Someone sighed. "Come on Myr, don't make me wake you up!" The voice, so familiar, was even closer now, and his grip on the Dream Realm was weakening. He continued to lie where he was, desperately grabbing at the shadowy remains of his dream… "That's it…" The voice sounded annoyed, and moments later, Myr felt a pressure on his hand. An instant later, the pain shot through his sleep-fogged brain, and with a yelp, he woke with a start, grabbing his injured hand as Amariel hopped away. A quick look at his hand showed an elongated semi-circle of shallow puncture marks, which matched the set on the other side of his hand.

::About time!:: the voice in his head said. She sounded incredibly pleased with herself.

::How long was I out?:: he asked, letting his head rest back on the ground as he licked his slowly bleeding hand. She shrugged.

::Long enough. Now grab what you can, and let's get the hell out of here!::

He nodded, and belatedly realized an extra weight on his chest. He carefully sat up and caught the two items, a plain silver ring, which he slipped onto his little finger after a quick inspection, and an un-ornamented steel dagger, which was none-the-less, well made.

::Go ahead and take it:: Amariel instructed him, ::there's bound to be a sheath or something that will fit it in here.:: He nodded and stood, somewhat stiffly, before moving over to the shelves around the room.

A large section of the shelving by the door was gone, only a glassy charred spot on the wall left where they had been. After a little searching, he found a pair of pants and a thick cloak that would fit him, to replace the ones that had been nearly destroyed during his time being tortured, and more recently, the fighting that they all had been going through. A little more searching revealed a pair of sword belts. Amariel helped a lot, showing him the magic bag and finding things that could be useful. At last, the room was almost bare, and they were ready. Amariel quickly climbed up the thick cloak and wound herself around his neck, and he moved to the door, pausing only to slip the plain dagger through his belt, and to grab the two swords from Valkiens dead hands, and since they no longer burned, slid them into the sheathes he had found. Thus armed and prepared, he returned to the tunnels.

Not wanting a fight, they quietly made their way though the darkness, Amariel searching for minds, Myrs sharp ears and eyes for anything she might miss. After what seemed like hours, they were once again in familiar territory, but the sounds of strife were getting louder, and fights were fast becoming harder to avoid. As they continued on, slinking around bodies, looters, and fights, Myr drew the large scimitars, which, much to his surprise, weighed little more than the goblins short swords. Even more surprising was the fact that as soon as they were free of the sheathes, the took to flaming, an intense blue that was somehow, more wholesome than the flames that they carried for Valkien.

::Stop gawking at your swords and move your sorry ass!:: Amariels exasperated barb brought him back to the business at hand. He nodded and moved on.

A tender zephyr caught his nose, and apparently, Amariel caught it too, as she tightened her grip on his neck momentarily. ::Fresh air!:: she said. Myr smiled and quickened his pace, following his nose and no longer caring what saw them. After a couple of goblins had tried to bar their way, and ended up split in half decorating the hallway, they moved with little opposition. It, of course, also helped that as they moved, a crowd of people, some human, others not, had fallen in around the two, and would fall upon any of the former jailers who didn't run fast enough.

As they came around a corner, their destination was suddenly in sight, and everyone in the rag tag band let out a cry of triumph and rushed forward, trampling over the half-dozen hobgoblins standing between them and freedom. After making sure to brutally stomp the face of a gob as he ran, he slowed to a walk and stepped out into the bright darkness of a moonlit night. Another cheer went up, waking the sleeping birds. There was much embracing and happy words…

::We're…:: Myrmarch laughed, a sound he was unused to doing, and startled at how it sounded from throat. Shifting to normal speech, he said, "Amariel! We're free!" he smiled and kissed the little dragons head. At the sound of a pain filled scream, unnaturally cut off however, everyone sobered up quickly. A tall half-elf, sporting a pair of ritual scars on his cheeks, and a rag over his left eye, dropped his bloodied sword into the ground.

"I am going back in! We can't just leave them there!" he quickly turned and grabbed the sword, plunging back into the darkness, quickly followed by almost the entire group outside. The ones who stayed behind, a pair of winged beings, and a centaur, all of whom started to build a camp. Myr volunteered to go hunting for wood, and Amariel headed into the caverns, to help the searchers find more people.

When Myr snapped awake, he couldn't remember having fallen asleep, but it didn't look too much later than when he'd sat down to rest. Amariels mental presence was strong, so she was probably nearby. A low babble and the smell of fresh stew coming from the nearby clearing got his attention, and he got up, moving to the next clearing, only to blink in surprise at the number of refugees. Several Healers, and even a hedge-wizard were moving among the injured, and there was obviously a line of sentries, but the overall atmosphere was one of happiness. As Myr stepped into the clearing, the babble grew quiet as people turned to look at him, and turned back with whispered conversations. The sheer variety of refugees astounded him, but the way they stared at him… He wandered over to the centaur, who was lording over the stew pot.

::What's going on here?:: He asked Amariel as the horse-man turned to him, and seeing who it was, quickly filled a mug with the stew and passed it over, an awed look on his face. "Food for the savior of us all, Goddess thank you!" Myr took the food, and feeling overwhelmed at the centaurs words, just nodded politely and found a spot to sit that was mostly away from the people gawking at him.

::Myr, don't you see?::

::See what?::

::Myr, your a bloody hero!:: He half choked on the stew, but managed to swallow it.

"I'm a WHAT" he asked incredulously, unable to keep his question mental.

::A hero Myr! You killed that bastard sorcerer!, you gave everyone their chance to escape! There will be songs about you!:: He could feel her smiling as she dropped to the ground and curled up in his lap. ::Thank you my friend. We are all of us indebted to you.::

At just that moment, someone, the Half-Elf who lead the rescue party, jumped up and pointed into the sky. "The sun! The sun is rising!" Everyone physically capable of it, stood and turned to the east, watching silently as the sun cast is first warm rays of light into the refugee encampment, raising everyone's spirits a little higher. All around, people had tears in their eyes as together, they watched their first sunrise since they had been captured. One of the healers, a priest of the Goddess, smiled and turned to the assemblage. "This is truly a good omen! The gods smile on us!" Myr smiled, for the first time since before his village was destroyed, truly happily, and he hugged Amariel.

::Things are looking up, and I think it's time we moved on.:: Myr sent to the little dragon. She nodded and crawled onto his shoulders, where she promptly fell asleep, leaving Myr to give his good-byes. From everyone he passed, he received thank-you s, hugs, and more than a few invitations of hearth and home. When he at last came to the blacksmith, Marc, who took Myr in a back pounding hug, careful to not hit his living necklace.

"We'll all beh sad, seein' yeh go cat-man."

"You people will do allright my friend. Journey well, and good luck!"

"Aye, and teh yeh as well."

Turning, Myr shouldered his pack, and stepped into the forest. With no destination, and only Amariel for company, but he didn't care, he was free! All else would fall into place before journeys end.

A gentle breeze drifted lazily though the camp, bringing relief to those whose hurts were as yet, untreated, but unbeknownst to the refugees, two flowers lay in the shallow depression where Myr had fallen asleep. A lotus, black as night, but gently striped white petals, and a jade iris, tinged purple… The sun continued to rise…