A/N: I'm so terribly sorry for the wait. It's just that the background for this story takes so much work, that I forget to actually write the story!

Thank you very much Shila, Kjersti, Adrienne Rose Kline, HoukanGishi, Rehanna, and Fleur Rochard.

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Chapter 3: Order of the Rose, Part 4

"Find anything?" Rael asked. Jared whirled around and Rael found himself with a sword at his throat.
"It's you! For gods' sakes, could you not do that to me?" Jared gasped.
"You're a bit high-strung," Rael remarked, delicately pushing the blade aside.
"The most important thing is to be ready to attack at all times."
"Ah, yes. Classic Darkslayer teachings to go with the classic Darkslayer sword. May I?" Rael requested, holding out his hand. Jared handed him the sword. "Beautiful. Tempered steel. And this saying etched in the blade: 'Kareseama onir et nos perde nun sa.' A blade of light will pierce the dark and we will be lost no more."
"It was written in the first tongue."
"Gorgeous. And this stone?" Rael inquired pointing to a large blue gem embedded in the silver hilt.
"Naomi's blood."
"What does it do?"
"I always thought it was just there for decoration, but I found something that might suggest otherwise."
"Oh really?"
"Yes. 'The blood of the sea will bring forth the messenger. He in turn will bring forth a gem buried in a sea of regret for ages.'"
"The messenger?"
"Any idea what this gem is?"
"No." Jared gave the god a long, searching look.
"You're lying."
"You really are too much."
"What are you going to do? Strike me with lightening for being impudent?"
"I should. You're lucky that I don't. But you're right. I was lying."
"Hah! Come on. Out with it."
"Well it is possible that Hannah is referring to the match to this." Rael reached into his tunic and pulled out a large red gem.
"That isn't-"
"It is."
"Does it truly give off light?" Jared asked, awe-stricken.
"It does when I wish it." Unthinkingly, Jared reached for the stone. Rael smiled and placed it in his hand. Lighter than it appeared, the jewel weighed almost nothing and spread soothing warmth through his fingers and up his arm. He handed it back.
"Amazing," he murmured. "Why would they trust you with this?"
"I earned it. It is a trinket reserved for fools."
"That explains much."
"No. It doesn't explain anything."

Jared had much to think about that night. So much that as he reviewed his notes at the inn, he didn't notice a grey-eyed woman studying him intently. Nor did he notice when she passed him by and he most definitely didn't see the powder she slipped in his drink.

"Jared? Jared! Jared, please wake up." But Jared didn't want to wake up. It was nice and warm where he was and his eyelids were so heavy. Actually, now that he thought about it, his entire body felt like lead. That couldn't be a good sign. "Jared! Jared, can you hear me?" That was Rael's voice. There was an unmistakable note of fear in his voice, but his voice was fading.

***

Very short, yes? I write a paragraph of this story every month, so forgive me if updates are few and far betwee, Nonetheless, reviews would be much aprreciated.

sincerely,
j. silver