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 Holinn, the Morose Shifter

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Join date : 2009-10-14
Age : 35
Location : Massachusetts

PostSubject: Holinn, the Morose Shifter   Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:52 pm

“Skass, thank you for waiting. Please come in and close the door behind you.” Skass walked into the office of Drottin Riddari, Duke of Keldaerin, shut the door behind him and turned to face his father. He noticed that his father was sitting behind his paper-strewn desk, as usual, and also as usual, the Duke’s Steward, Brytin, and favorite pet dog, Holinn, were there as well. “Brytin, will you excuse us please. I need to speak to Skass alone.” “Of course, sire.” Nodding to Skass, Brytin made his way to the door. “Come along, Holinn. You can come relax with me while they talk.” “Not this time, Brytin. I would prefer if Holinn stayed with us tonight.” Giving the Duke an inquisitive look, and then nodding in understanding, Brytin made his exit. “How come you let that mutt hang out in here at all times, except when you have to talk to me ‘alone’. And why is tonight so different?” Skass asked heatedly. “Skass, why do you dislike Holinn so much? What did he ever do to you?” Drottin responded. “My brother goes missing when we are babies,” Skass spat, “and to honor him you name a new dog after him!” “Ah I see. Indulge me, what happened 8 years ago on that awful day?” “You want me to retell the tale that you yourself told to me years ago?” “Yes Skass, I do,” the Duke said quietly. “Fine. A few months after Holinn and I turned two years old, we were playing in the east study with the new puppy you had bought us for our birthday. We had been left alone for only a few moments as our maid when to use the lavatory. When she returned, Holinn was missing. She screamed, which brought a few of the castle staff running. One was sent to find you, the rest starting searching the castle. Our maid stayed with me, to make sure I didn’t wander away as well. Because a two year old could wander through a solid oak door all on his own. I do not understand why you did not fire the maid.” “Continue the story please, Skass.” “Not that it mattered, she quit of shame shortly after. She should have been executed the same day.” “Skass! Continue.” “Very well. The castle was thoroughly searched, as was the surrounding town, but Holinn was never found. The new puppy didn’t have a name yet, so you named him Holinn to signify that you had given up the search for my kidnapped twin. Good enough retelling, Father?” “A little altered, but good enough. What would you say if I told you that was a clever deception and not accurate?” “What?! Then what really happened to my brother?!” Skass demanded. “I will tell you only when you have calmed down,” Drottin stated while calmly leaning back in his chair. Groaning with impatience, Skass calmed himself down enough to convince his father to continue. “Alright father, I am calm. So what really happened then?” Without changing is relaxed position the duke uttered only a few words to Skass, “He never left the east study.” “What is that supposed to mean?” “When I was informed of the situation, I joined the search for over 2 hours and then I grew nervous that you would go missing as well. So I went directly to the east study to watch over you myself and sent the maid out to search for Holinn in my place. They did indeed search for hours for Holinn and were indeed unsuccessful. That part was true. The part that was a lie was when we told everyone that he was never found. In fact he was found only 10 short minutes after I sent the maid away. I had spent the first few moments just staring at you and lamenting over my lost son, then without prompting you uttered your first word, ‘Doggies!’ At first I was torn with emotion, one son gone, and the other decided to speak his first word. Then I thought it odd that you had said ‘Doggies” as your first word. ‘I had only bought one, hadn’t I?’ I thought to myself. I looked over towards the fireplace and saw two puppies wrestling around with each other on the bear skin rug. Then I looked closer, they were identical! That just made me more confused. I knew I had only bought one puppy, not two, and certainly not a replicating dog! Then as I approached them, one of the dogs came running up to me, and then started to change. I will not lie, I was scared at first, but then the ‘dog’ finished changing and Holinn was at my feet, smiling up at me. He was so proud at this new trick he had learned. And I knew right then and there that I had found the solution to my biggest worry.” “What worry?” “You know well that your mother died in child birth, so I had only you and Holinn as heirs. That made you targets for anyone looking to gain power. That was why we were so worried when Holinn went missing, we thought he had been kidnapped. I now had a way around that. I hurriedly asked Holinn to show me his new trick again, and as soon as he was back to being a dog, I scooped him and you up and ran to my private study. I ordered the first servant I saw to run and find Brytin, and tell him to meet me in my private study. Once we were all there, I showed Brytin what Holinn could do. He was startled at first and then simply exclaimed, ‘A natural Druid, you are blessed, sire.’ ‘This must be kept secret Brytin. I am swearing you to secrecy and ordering you to always proclaim that Holinn was never found on this day. From this day forth, I have only one son, the other is lost to me, and the new dog will be known as Holinn in memory of the son that was lost. Take the real dog to a family in the village and give him to them to raise. Everyone will be led to believe that Holinn is the new puppy I had purchased for my sons. However for the time being, he will be bound to my quarters. I will send an emissary to the elves in the south requesting a trainer for a young teenager from the village that we have recently discovered to be partial to the druidic arts. Do you understand all I have told you, Brytin?’ ‘Yes sire, I understand your plan perfectly and will send the emissary at once.’ Within the month, a druid from the elven city of Silvermoon arrived and was ushered directly to my study. He introduced himself as Master Druid Arrna Taelas and requested to see the young man he was informed he would be training. ‘Before you speak with him, I must ask for a vow of secrecy from you.’ He took a moment to study my face and, apparently finding what he wished, replied ‘You will have it once I know exactly what I am to be keeping secret.’ This was a well thought out request to which I replied, ‘My son did not go missing as everyone has been led to believe. He in fact never left the room he was supposedly kidnapped from. In truth he had shifted himself to look like the new puppy I had purchased for my sons’ amusement. This is why I have sent for you. I wish for you to be his trainer so that he may hone his natural talents, and also to keep his existence a secret from everyone but myself and my steward. Unfortunately, even his own brother must be unaware of this falsehood. Now that you know what it is you are to keep secret, what say you? Will you do as I have requested?’ ‘Before I take on any pupil, I must meet with the boy. I was led to believe he would be a teenager, how old is he truly?’ ‘My sons turned two years old but a month ago.’ This seemed to take him by surprise that he would be training someone so young but he merely replied, ‘Interesting. He was able to take on this form so convincingly that he was thought to go missing even by his own father at such a young age? This also means that he is still too young to truly know what is going on, and also too young to have gained any negative tendencies. Since this is so, I do not need to meet him before I say this, I will accept your offer of training and hiding the boy.’ I was overjoyed at this proclamation. That he would train Holinn after such a short description seemed like a miracle! It solved both of the problems that I had foreseen. First and foremost, Holinn now had a trainer to hone his raw talent. The second problem was even more key for my plan, Holinn would no longer have to stay hidden away in my quarters at all times. I immediately set up a house in the near-by village for Master Taelas and Holinn to live and study. Located near the outskirts, they would have easy access to the forest and would not need to travel through the town when they needed space to train. Training was slow at first due to the fact that Holinn needed to stay in the castle most of the week to keep up the appearance of being the puppy.” “So this is why Master Taelas was always watching over me when I played with Holinn.” Skass interrupted quietly. “Yes, Skass, that is the reason. Holinn’s training progressed well none the less. Over the past eight years, he has grown quite accustomed to his role in life and has enjoyed all the time he has gotten to spend with you. Now that you are both ten year’s old, I felt that you were old enough to learn the truth. Master Taelas, if you may?” Suddenly the hawk perched on a stand behind my father’s desk leapt to the floor and grew into the stately elven form of Master Taelas. He bowed to father and son, and then in a quiet tone that resembled wind blowing through the branches of an oak, spoke three words. “Holinn, you may.” The puppy laying on the floor at Skass’s feet stood and also started to shift. Before long a slightly pale, quite skinny ten year old with shoulder length black hair stood next to Skass. “It is good to finally look upon you through my own eyes, brother,” Holinn stated. Skass could only stare, open mouthed at the twin he had thought to be lost all his life. “It is good to see you again Holinn,” was all that Skass could utter. Drottin looked over his two sons and then nodded, as if coming to a decision. “Now that you both know the truth, I have a request of you, Holinn.” “As always, I obey your every command, Father.” “With Master Taelas’s permission, I would ask that you become a hidden protector of Skass. He is old enough now that he can venture out into the town on his own, but I still worry about his safety. You can continue with your training as much as possible, but while Skass is in public I ask that you follow him and watch out for him. Master Taelas, Holinn, what do you think of this?” Holinn looked from his father to his master. Master Taelas simply nodded, but said nothing. “I will do as you say, Father. It will be good to spend more time with Skass and to see more of the town and its interactions. How would you have me travel? As a dog?” And Holinn was suddenly the form of a dog. “A hawk to see what is coming from afar?” The dog transformed into a hawk. “A commoner?” Now the hawk grew to resemble a traveling merchant who had visited the village a few months ago. “I see you have gained much control over your talents, Holinn. I believe that the shape of a dog will be best. No one will suspect anything if Skass is traveling with his lifelong pet.” “As you wish, Father.” “Thank you, Holinn. Now, if Master Taelas wouldn’t mind, I would like both of you to try out this new arrangement and go visit in the town while I talk to the Master Druid alone.” Skass bowed to his father and Master Taelas and left the office. Holinn, now as a dog, barked at both and followed Skass out. “His control seems to be growing well, as is his mind and manners. A credit to his teacher Holinn is, Master Taelas.” “Thank you, Drottin. He is indeed growing well. He will grow into an extremely gifted Shifter if I am not mistaken.” “A Shifter? He is following that path? I have been told it is a difficult one.” “Not for Holinn. He takes to every new form as a trout to water, or a hawk to the sky, or a wolf to the forest. Indeed he has accomplished all three of these flawlessly, and all by the time he was ten years old. Of course humans age quicker than elves, but even for a human, this is impressive. After saying this, in fact due to it in a way, I am glad that you suggested that Holinn spend more time with his brother. In fact I would have suggested it if you had not. Holinn has seemed almost consumed by his training these past few years, as if he could make up for the fact that he must always stay hidden.” “I know it has been hard for him, never being able to speak to his own twin except in barks and growls. This is why I told Skass the truth today, and the reason I requested Holinn to follow him. They are young boys and I know they will find ways to spend time together away from the crowds so Holinn may stay in human form and have conversations. It will be good for both of them.”
“Can you believe that shop owner didn’t want to give me that sword? People always give me what I want. I’m a prince after all!” “Skass, the sword, and belt, weren’t made for you, and you didn’t pay for them. You shouldn’t have just taken them. It wasn’t right.” “Wasn’t right? I am a prince; our father is the lord of this village! He should have handed it over willingly. I shouldn’t have had to take it! You don’t understand this because you’ve never gotten to see this side of life. You aren’t allowed to be a prince like me. How about this, the next shop we go in, I’ll get you something you really like?” “Will you pay for it?” “Ok… I don’t think you understand how this works. I don’t pay, that’s the way it works. I see something I like, and I take it.” “Did you even hear what the shop owner said? That sword was a special creation, made for a wedding present. And it was already paid for by the father of the bride.” “See it was already paid for, so why would I pay for it, then the shop owner would have gotten paid twice for the same sword.” “It’s getting late, we should start heading back. Besides, I think I hear people coming, and you will look crazy having a conversation with a dog.” “That is true, and I need to show my sword off to Father and Brytin.” At this Skass drew the sword and flourished it around. “Watch out! You almost cut me!” “I did a little more than that to myself…” “Are you ok? Did you cut yourself? Where?” “Holinn, I think we should get back to the castle, I cut my hand pretty badly.” “My first day of my new protection duty and you get injured. Father is going to kill me.” “Oh stop it, lets just get back, the royal cleric should be able to take care of this in no time.”
“Brytin, where is the royal cleric?” “Slow down Skass, why do you need the cleric.” “I cut myself, I mean, I got cut while I was in the village today. It’s just a scratch on my hand, but I need the cleric.” “That is not just a scratch Skass. Let’s go, he is in his room. Holinn, go get the Duke.” A few hours later found Skass sleeping peacefully in his bed and, thanks to the healing powers of the royal cleric, all he had to show for his afternoon adventure was a small scar on his left hand. Holinn, however, was not resting comfortably. After getting questioned by his father about Skass’s injury, he was sent back to Master Taelas’s house. “Master, he didn’t even feel bad about taking it! He said that he was a prince and he shouldn’t have to pay for anything. It was meant for a wedding present and now it hangs on a person that will never use it correctly! He almost cut his own hand off, Master! And yet he is the prince and I get to be the royal dog. Don’t get me wrong, Master. I love my life here, and, at times, I’d rather be here or in the forest with you than in the castle. Stone doesn’t bend like trees. Humans don’t seem to be as aware of the world as deer and hawks and all the other animals. Will it always be like this? Always staying hidden, never being able to show my real face to people? Spending more time with animals than with humans? Please tell me? Why does it have to be this way?” Holinn dropped his head to the table and wept. Master Taelas could do nothing but stroke the head of his pupil and be there for him. Within moments, Holinn followed his twin into slumber.
The next two years went by quickly for Holinn. When he wasn’t training with Master Taelas, he was following Skass around. He had the privilege of watching his twin fall deeper down the slope of selfishness and self-righteousness. Whatever Skass wanted he took, and didn’t care who he hurt in the process. Having to stay in the form of a dog, Holinn could only watch, and grow to learn what behavior was not princely. Then it happened, a shop owner stood up to Skass. Holinn could have cheered when a stocky dwarven blacksmith realized that Skass had just walked off with his newest creation, a finely crafted warhammer. Before Skass even knew what happened, he was lying on his stomach with his face shoved into a pile of horse manure. After a few words were spoken by the dwarf, Skass gave him the hammer back and, almost in tears from frustration at being so humiliated, quietly stalked away and straight back to the castle. A few days later Holinn was surprised to find Skass’s path taking him towards the dwarf’s shop. When he arrived at the shop, Holinn was slightly excited by the words that came out of the dwarf’s mouth, “Back for a rematch, lad?” Then he was utterly overwhelmed by the words that came out of his brother’s mouth, “No… sir”. Holinn couldn’t remember the last person Skass had called sir. ? “Ah, so what would you be wantin from an old dwarf like me then? I’ve been told you don’ pay for nothing, so you might want to find another shop. Unless his lordship wants another snack. If that be the case, I think there’s a fresh pile 2 feet to your left, my lord.” Holinn glanced over and saw a still steaming pile of horse manure. Holinn couldn’t help the dog version of a laugh that escaped his lips. Skass didn’t find it quite so humorous and left briskly. The dwarf simply continued his hammering and chuckled. Over the next few weeks, Skass continued to surprise Holinn by going back to the dwarf’s shop everyday. He never approached, but watched from a distance. It was a boring time for Holinn. He thought the time could have been better spent actually talking to the dwarf but he was happy that Skass wasn’t stealing from the other shopkeepers, or tormenting the townsfolk. Then one day the dwarf wasn’t at his usual post by his forge. “You could learn a lot more by standin closer, and even more by talkin to me, lad.” The dwarf had apparently noticed Skass’s observations and decided to do what Skass couldn’t, approach and start up a conversation. Skass could only stutter out, “I did not mean to steal anything, sir.” Ah how Holinn loved to see his arrogant brother calling a dwarven blacksmith “sir”. “Of that I’m sure of, lad. Especially since you’ve been camped here everyday for almost a month. Now why don’t you come back to my shop with me and we’ll see what we can make o’ you.” Holinn spent the rest of the day lounging outside the shop while his brother and the dwarf talked the day away. Skass returned the next day, and the next, and the next. It amazed Holinn to see Skass change so drastically in such a short time. By the time the fifth day rolled around, Holinn was bored of just lounging outside the door and decided that, since Skass would once again spend the day with the dwarf, Dougan was his name, he had the day off from his protection duty. He headed for the forest, where he could be around the animals he had grown to emulate. Before he made it five feet Holinn had shifted into the form of a deer and laughed as the wind whipped over and around him as he sprinted through the woods. He changed his form many times that day, sometimes jumping from tree to tree as a squirrel, other times soaring over them as a hawk. He hadn’t been able to completely relax like this in some time and he was determined to take full advantage of it. Close to dusk, when he knew Skass would be bidding farewell to Dougan, Holinn headed back to the dwarven shop, making sure to shift back into the form of a dog well before he entered the village. When he got close to the shop, Holinn was startled by what he saw and broke into a full sprint. As he ran, he watched as Dougan picked up the broken and unconscious form of Skass, which had been lying on his doorstep. Holinn had no idea what happened but decided that he couldn’t return to the castle alone, and with no good excuse why his brother was not with him. He decided that the only way to find out what happened was to actually go into Dougan’s house, something he had never done before. Not that he was forbidden to, he had just never cared what happened inside. Tonight was different, so he quickly ran behind the house, away from any prying eyes, and shifted into the form of a tiny mouse. He then snuck inside to a most interesting conversation. “…robbers beat me and stole everything I had.” “Well this I can see. An awakening was it?” “What do you mean an awakening!? I was beat close to death and robbed!” “Aye lad, that you were. Did it ever occur to you that not everyone cares that your father is Duke Riddari? Or worse, they only care because that means you’ll have a fat purse?” Then Holinn learned that not only was Dougan a blacksmith, but he was also a paladin of Moradin. Skass and Dougan began to discuss what this meant to great lengths, and Holinn took this time to sneak back outside, he really didn’t care about gods or goddesses. Nature was god-like enough for him and the animals that inhabited it told him everything he needed to know. Now that he knew what happened, Holinn could return to the castle and simply tell their father that Skass had decided to spend the night at Dougan’s. So he shifted back into a dog and made his way back to a warm bath and a hot meal, both of which he could use after the day he had.
The next morning, Holinn woke later than usual and lay in bed wondering why he hadn’t been summoned to escort Skass around as usual. He was still pondering this when his bedroom door slammed open and the angry image of his father stormed in. “Why were you not with Skass when he was attacked?! You could have prevented it! That is precisely why you escort him around!” “Father, I figured he was going to spend the rest of the day with Dougan like he had done the past four days. How was I supposed to know he would decide to leave early?” “That is not the point. He could have been killed and you were nowhere to be found. Thankfully Dougan was able to heal his wounds, and something good has actually come of it. But that’s neither here nor there. You have failed in your duty due to negligence. That is something I can not abide. It is my decision that you will leave this castle and this village within the week and head to a new outpost that is currently being created.” “But father…” “Don’t interrupt! The outpost was originally going to just be an advance scouting post to watch for possible goblin attacks, but now it will have a second purpose; hiding you.” “So I am to be sent away,” Holinn softly said, chocking back the tears of frustration that welled up in his eyes. “In short, yes. You and Master Taelas will head to this new outpost, which I have deemed ‘Hollins’, next week with the next troupe of soldiers and craftsmen. Master Taelas has agreed to act as part of the defenses of the city if they ever need help. This will be the only reason anyone will ever know as to why he is there. I am giving you full permission to walk around the city in human form whenever you choose. However, you must stay in the form of a different human so nobody ever sees your resemblance to the Riddari line. While there you will continue your training with Master Taelas, I expect you to be an accomplished Shifter if I should ever choose to visit.” “I understand father and I will be ready when the time comes to leave.” “Very well. One last order of business, then. Skass has decided to train under Dougan so you are no longer required to be his protector. Therefore you may do whatever you please while you are not training or preparing for the journey. And now I have to make sure that the construction of Hollins is proceeding as scheduled.” And with that Drottin left Holinn to ponder his new future.
The next week passed without incident. Holinn trained most days and started to pack what meager possessions he was allowed to bring with him. The few hours he had free, he usually spent enjoying the calm and peace of the forest. Holinn never saw Skass except at a distance when he ventured into the part of the village where Dougan’s shop was. Six days after the river incident, Holinn awoke at dawn and, together with Master Taelas, met up with the caravan of soldiers, craftsman and supplies as they started the two day journey to Hollins. The trip would take longer than usual due to the slower pace of the heavily laden wagons. Holinn was excited for this trip. He had never been this far outside the village before, and he would never have to watch over that arrogant brother of his again. He could finally concentrate on his training unhindered, and without the interference of his father. He was also secretly hoping for a bandit ambush or a goblin attack. Holinn would find himself disappointed in regards to this secret hope though as they marched into the half completed outpost two days later. Master Taelas led him to a flat piece of land and stated that this was their new home. “Are we to sleep under the stars?” Holinn asked. “One can not be given a home. A person has to build it for himself if he is ever to be happy.” The answer he received caused him to simply follow instructions for the rest of the day, he was too lost in thought to do anything else. A month later, as the first snows fell, found Holinn and Master Taelas relaxing near a roaring fire in their simple, yet comfortable home after a long hard day of training in the bitter cold of the early winter weather.
Over the years, Master Taelas continued to push him harder and, and Holinn grew into a very skilled shifter. Because of this course of training, Master Taelas once explained to him, he would never be as strong in the other druidic arts as a pure druid. Holinn had come to understand and accept this, and did not mind at all. He would rather be able to turn into anything he wanted then cast spells that would not be nearly as helpful. As almost a byproduct of living so close to goblin occupied lands, Holinn also learned the goblinoid language. Master Taelas seemed to think it a very good idea to have this ability. This observation brought plans of shifting into a goblin and infiltrating a camp of the monsters into Holinn’s mind. Two months after his nineteenth birthday, Master Taelas commanded Holinn to act on this thought. It was an interesting time, but sadly grew very boring. All they did was sit around and occasionally punch each other in the face. There seemed to be a game involving spitting longer and longer distances and still hitting the runt of the camp. Everyone enjoyed, except of course the runt. After spending three days with the goblins, Holinn returned to Master Taelas to convey what he had learned. “They seem to be extremely lazy, not very intelligent creatures. The only time I saw them work without taking a break every few minutes was when the clan leader was around.” “And what does this tell you Holinn?” “Take out the leader first and the rest will not wish to fight?” “Or you could try a way that does not require killing. Think Holinn.” “I could shift into the leader and they would follow me to whatever end?” “Or use that form to make sure they never attacked your father’s kingdom.” “Well yes that too.” Master Taelas gave Holinn a penetrating look, the same look he always gave him whenever Holinn did not immediately come to a conclusion that should have included his family, but did not. Some of Holinn’s traits had started to worry Master Taelas, not that any of them were overly bad, but some were less than desirable. His fascination with women for one thing astounded even the long lived elf. He just couldn’t seem to get enough of them and, due to his ability, none of the women ever knew what he really looked like, he never had to worry about them after he snuck out in the morning. This character trait didn’t impress Holinn’s father either Master Taelas knew, and it widened the rift between them even farther. Holinn and Drottin had never been close, especially since Holinn moved to Hollins. In fact, Master Taelas and Holinn had only seen Drottin twice in all the years they had lived there. Once was at the completion of the outpost, and Drottin did not say a single word to Holinn. He asked Master Taelas how is son was progressing but that was all. Master Taelas knew they were still angry with each other, but the river incident had only occurred three months before and he was hopeful that in time the wounds would heal. The second time was only a month before the goblin “invasion”. Skass had finished his paladin training and headed out on his own, to walk the world for awhile, spreading the good word of Moradin. Due to this Drottin had decided to see how his other son had fared in the 7 years since he had last seen him. Drottin must have been disappointed in what he found for he only stayed a few hours before heading back to the castle. Holinn helped this along quite a bit. As soon as Drottin arrived at Holinn and Master Taelas’s house, he did the one thing he promised himself he wouldn’t do; he compared Holinn to Skass. Holinn was forever in another form, be it wolf, bird, deer, or another human, so his true form, his birth form, was pitifully weak and quite pale since it never saw the sun for very long. When compared to Skass’s tanned body made strong from hours swinging a hammer, Holinn simply couldn’t measure up. Drottin never stated this outright, but Holinn immediately knew what he was thinking. Add this to the fact that Holinn never forgave his father for making him live in the shadows, first following Skass around as a dog, and then exiled to Hollins, and the conversation did not go well, nor did it last long. Drottin left having never accomplished what he set out to do; invite his son to come home.
Time passed slowly after that incident. Master Taelas knew that Holinn did not want to be caged in one place while he knew his twin was out having adventures, so he tried to make things more interesting for him. He summonsed great beasts that Holinn could study, and, in time, learn to shift into. He also led Holinn on scouting expeditions in the woods where they would often find goblins to battle. Master Taelas was always amazed at Holinn’s battle prowess; he always seemed to know exactly what form to take for the greatest advantage. As Master Taelas had predicted, Holinn’s other druidic arts fell by the wayside. His spellcasting stayed rudimentary, and he never took an animal companion as most druids do. Master Taelas was not surprised, no other animal would ever be able to keep up with Holinn. Master Taelas was also right about another thing; Holinn seemed to slide deeper and deeper into his cage. He knew that Holinn believed he would never leave this small outpost, so when he heard news that Skass and a handful of adventurers were on their way, he decided to propose an idea to Holinn.
“Holinn, come in here and sit down. I have some news that you may or may not like to hear. Your brother is on his way here with four traveling companions. They are on route to the Murks to hopefully kill a hobgoblin named Bloodclaw and stop a goblin invasion. Now I know that you wish to travel as your brother does, and now that you are twenty-three, I believe you old enough to make up your own mind. If you wish it, when Skass arrives here in two days time, you may speak to him and ask to join him on his mission. I only have one rule that you must abide by; you must stay hidden at all times from his companions. So, what do you say to this?” “For the chance to get out and see the rest of the world, I will agree to this. One question though, what happens if something happens to Skass? May I come show myself then?” Master Taelas had the strange sensation that Holinn further along this fate for Skass, but the feeling past quickly and he agreed that Holinn could show himself if Skass should fall. A few days later, Skass’s group arrived at the outpost. Shortly after arriving, Skass was approached by Master Taelas and informed of the situation. Skass had not seen his brother in a long time and welcomed the chance to spend some time traveling with his twin. The following day found Holinn disguised as a rat and safely tucked into a saddlebag. As they rode out of Hollins, Holinn believed that maybe something good might actually come of this adventure, if his better-than-everyone-else brother didn’t get in his way too much. Of course if something did happen to Skass, Holinn would finally be truly free. Holinn would toy with this thought many times over the course of the adventure into the Murks, once again hiding away from the world so Skass could ride in the sunlight.


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PostSubject: Re: Holinn, the Morose Shifter   Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:17 pm

Excerpt from the journal of Master Taelas:
Today I started teaching Holinn the lore of so called “half-creatures” as deemed by the world of men, Centaurs, Minotaurs, Gargoyles, and the like. Holinn seemed extremely interesting, as he always does when discussing new creatures that he could potentially use as forms. That is until he learned what they actually are, part man and part beast combined into one. As soon as he heard this he seemed distraught and, surprisingly, agitated, extremely agitated. I haven’t seen him this agitated since leaving his father’s city. I was honestly taken aback by this display of raw emotion due to Holinn’s usual demeanor when being taught about the creatures of the world. I decided not to press him about this and continued the lessons. The more I taught, the more agitated he became though, until suddenly he stood up and started pacing, and shifting. He had become so distraught that he actually started shifting between forms while pacing around the room. I stopped talking and simply watched him. After a few minutes of this, Holinn stopped, turned to face me and asked a question that I did not expect: “Master how could the druids let such abominations live?” I couldn’t immediately respond I was so caught of guard. “That is an unusual word to use for creatures of nature, Holinn. And quite frankly, an unfair term to name them. Explain yourself this instant.” He thought for a moment and then proceeded to answer with a most unusual argument. “Master, I am a human and yet I can turn into any creature I want. Therefore I am, at times, an animal, but never both at once. These beings are selfish, they expect the world and nature to accept them for being both man and animal at the same time. They need to choose a side! They are unnatural beings and do not deserve to live.” It took all of my will power to contain my outrage. “And who are you to decide what deserves to live or die, Holinn? It is true that some species lean more towards evil, but not all. Minotaurs sway more towards evil when born, but Centaurs sway towards good and are typically our allies, a good number are druids, powerful druids who commune regularly with nature. In fact, I have many friends who are Centaurs.” He did not like this fact, I could read it all over his face, but he was in control of himself enough at this point not to directly insult creatures I just stated were my friends. “I apologize for my outburst, Master. I have no excuse. May I have leave to take the afternoon off from my lessons and exercise in the woods?” “No, I am afraid I can not give you the afternoon off. You must learn about all of nature’s creatures, especially those that you deem as ‘abominations’.” He controlled his emotions for the rest of the lesson, but his jaw line told me exactly how much of an effort it was. I ended the lesson the same as I end every creature lesson, I turned into the creature I had discussed. This time I felt it even more important than usual due to Holinn’s obvious discomfiture. Even I was not ready for the reaction though. As soon as I had shifted into a Centaur, Holinn shifted as well, into a large dire wolf. He backed up, head down and growled. “Holinn, stop that this instant.” Holinn stopped growling but his head remained down and his hackles were still raised. “Holinn this is a creature of nature whether you want to believe it or not. Now shift back to your human form and sit down!” At this point, I realized that as long as I stayed in this form Holinn was never going to calm down, so I did what I had to do and shifted back into my own human form. My idea worked. As soon as I shifted back, Holinn reverted back to his human form, sitting on the floor and staring up at me with a confused look on his face. “I do not understand, Master,” was all he could utter. “I know Holinn. The form that I took was an exact duplicate of one of my good friends whom I have known for longer than you have been alive. He is a good person and a trusted ally. You fear what you do not understand. Thus is the curse of all humans. Some day you will understand and know longer fear them. Today’s lesson is over. Go run in the woods as you do when you need to think. I believe today of all days, you have much to think about.”
Today’s lesson was an intriguing one to say the least. Holinn never fails to surprise me, but this time it was not in a pleasant way. Over time I am sure he will learn to trust these beautiful creatures of nature. Today, however, I will not push him.
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PostSubject: Re: Holinn, the Morose Shifter   Sat May 01, 2010 4:47 pm

I make my way slowly in the darkness, feeling in front with a paw until it strikes something directly in front of me. I call out to make sure it isn’t a friend, mainly Talis, I’m pretty sure this darkness is her doing. No answer so I swipe with a claw. I can hear it move to my left and then suddenly pain shoots through my body, definitely not a friend. I rear back and attack furiously with both giant claws and bit down on any part I can. I can feel my teeth sink and my claws rip apart flesh and bone, that will teach it to attack me. I can suddenly see again, the darkness is gone, and I am standing over a very bloody Talis, her blood on my claws and face.
Holinn woke with a start to see the sun beginning to filter down through the trees, the image of Talis’s bloody and broken body still tormenting his vision. The events of the previous day had been, in a word, unexpected. Talis was dead, by Holinn’s own claws, Seradeen was dead by the hands of whatever creature had been calling itself Calith the past few weeks, Kortahl gone to who knows where, last seen turning invisible and running, probable back to the Drow kingdom now that Talis was dead, and the Calith creature took Talus’s body and, after a brief conversation with Holinn, disappeared through a door in the air. After being left alone with just the body of Seradeen and their many slain enemies to keep him company in the clearing, Holinn turned into a blinkdog and started teleporting away from the war that was going on all around him. He had been informed that the only place that could be a safe harbor for him was Rudstow, on the western coast south of his father’s city, but he did not immediately travel there. He spent the remainder of the day attempting to outrun the memory of what he had done, unfortunately nightfall found him still trying and still running. The setting of the sun did not cause him to stop though, only exhaustion would do that. When he could barely stay awake, Holinn found a tall tree, turned into a squirrel to escape notice and for protection from the chilly autumn evening, curled up in his tail and slept, hoping that he was too tired to dream. The dreams came though, every gory detail revisited by his slumbering mind.
Upon waking, Holinn, realizing how hungry he was, foraged for some nuts and berries. While eating he thought about where he would go from here. He should head west to Rudstow, but he decided that he needed to do something else first, seek guidance in regards to his future and the previous days actions. In order to accomplish this, Holinn headed back towards Silverwind, to the one person whose advice he could trust and might actually follow. He shifted into a blinkdog and was off, teleporting in a not-so-straight line towards the home of Master Taelas. “I hope he is still there considering all I have learned about the elves in the past few days. Of course it’s also been seven years since I’ve seen him.” thought Holinn. “And he may not have headed back as he stated he was going to when I left Hollin’s. Maybe some other pressing matter has kept him away.” It seemed all Holinn could think about now were reason’s why his master was not going to be there when he arrived. And then he was suddenly wet. Holinn paused his thinking and looked around. He was standing paw deep in a river. He realized that he hadn’t had a bath since the short swim he took in the Murks swamp before his brother was killed and he was still living as a rat. He quickly looked around to make sure there were no threats and then rolled over in the water. He suddenly had a thought and shifted into a bearhound, the first time he had since killing Talis. He waited for the water to calm and then peered at his reflection. Even after all the splashing, his maw was still covered in blood. With a quick glance down, he realized that his paws were as well. He took a great gulp of air and plunged his head back into the icy river, using his paws to scrub at his face. When he could no longer hold his breathe, Holinn pulled his face out of the water and turned his attention to his paws, using the mud at the bottom to coat his fur and scrub the blood away. After several minutes, he washed the mud away, and saw that the blood was still there. When the water cleared enough, he noticed that the blood was still on his maw as well. “Get off of me!” Holinn suddenly screamed. His tears mixed with the water of the river until he couldn’t see his reflection anymore. When he finally got control of his emotions again, he spoke out loud. “I will never again take this form. The blood of an ally has stained it and I will bury it as she will forever be buried.” By the time he finished speaking this oath, he was back in the form of a blinkdog. Still dripping wet, he crawled out of the river. Looking back at the river, he noticed something unexpected. There were no crimson spots of blood anywhere. He thought it strange but dismissed it as just the flow of the river. He turned back and headed again towards Silverwind.
At about an hour before sunset, Holinn arrived at a hill overlooking where Silverwind should have been. He would have arrived earlier but he spotted a family of deer and, since he was in no rush, he decided to run with them for a while. He was glad he did for they told him odd stories, tales of strange creatures they had never seen before, things not of the forest. Considering everything he had seen lately, Holinn wasn’t surprised, but the amount of creatures truly worried him. He asked of the elves, and the deer stated they had not seen the elves in quite some time. He inquired about Master Taelas but the deer seemed to be of no help. They never called any of the elves by name, did not even know they had them. Holinn thanked them for all they had told him and for the exciting run through the forest. They said good luck and be careful, and then sprinted off into the woods. Upon looking down on to the valley where the city should have been, Holinn saw nothing but a shimmering mass of air. The city was gone! And with it the only place that Holinn would find Master Taelas and peace of mind. In the forests nearby, he spotted the “creatures not of the forest” that the deer had told him about. Holinn shifted into a phantom fungus so they wouldn’t see him and did what he always does when he sees new creatures, he watched and studied them. Studied their habits, their fighting styles, everything. They were fighting amongst each other, creating a hierarchy through force. They truly were not of this world. One appeared as a hairless, skinless wolf that seemed to spit acid from a mouth that was at the end of a long neck capable of extending quite far away from its body. Another was a giant creature with what looked like a beetles shell on the outside and two large hook claws. Others were even more terrifying, a giant armored scorpion like creatures, ones with 4 arms all ending in wicked claws, a giant slug type with a squid for a head. The longer Holinn stayed the more uncomfortable he became. Suddenly a group of them turned and stared directly at Holinn, seeing him even though he was invisible. As they started moving towards him, Holinn stored this knowledge away for later use, turned into a blinkdog, which drew the attention of the rest of the creatures. They stopped fighting each other and as one, turned towards Holinn. He didn’t hesitate, within a few seconds he was hundreds of yards away, teleporting as fast as he could, and hoping that none of those things were able to do the same. He kept going until well past nightfall until finally exhaustion brought him down again. Like the previous night, he hid as a squirrel in a tree and slept the night away.
“Talis!” Holinn woke with the name still echoing off the trees. The same dream, the same face haunting his waking mind as well as his sleeping one. He got his bearings and decided that it was time to head towards Rudstow, to seek out the man Calith told him about. After shifting back into a blinkdog, Holinn teleported straight towards Rudstow. No longer taking his time and jumping all over, the trip to the port town took him only a few days. Upon arriving, it was easy to blend in. Being able to look like anybody made it very easy. He noticed that the sailors boasted about the “freedom of the sea” and the “adventure of a new land to the west”. A new land to the west! This gave him ideas. His father would never be able to find him, the drow would never be able to find him, those new creatures would never be able to find him. He could completely get away from this war where both sides wanted to kill him. He made up his mind right then and there. He would take the form of a sailor and somehow get passage on a ship. Maybe Calith’s contact could assist him with this. Considering what he saw Calith turn into and do, Holinn didn’t think it the best idea to just walk into a random tavern and ask for him by name. He would spend a few more days getting the lay of the land first. He spend the rest of the day traveling around the city, poking his head into every tavern and store. As night fell, he found a place to stay and bought a room. His mind racing with the possibilities that the future now held, it took some time for Holinn to fall asleep. As his mind finally let him rest, the familiar setting unfolded to his subconscious mind.:
I make my way slowly in the darkness, feeling in front with a paw until it strikes something directly in front of me. I call out to make sure it isn’t a friend, mainly Talis…
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PostSubject: Re: Holinn, the Morose Shifter   Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:25 am

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