Campaign Logs

The Tale of Kelly Alexander

By Artalis

This is The Tale of Kelly Alexander. The author of this work is Artalis, please email him with any queries.The material contained here is the property of Artalis and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Candlekeep claim no rights of ownership to this work and associated material.

It had been a hell day, the phone kept ringing off the hook, nobody seemed to know anything, and everybody called Alexander Kelly. It was a real annoyance too, this was stuff these techs should know, he thought. Basic permissions errors, group membership changes, and email issues, all so terribly tedious for him. Plus he was tired because he'd been up all night till four o'clock playing Everquest, which though somewhat repetitive was infinitely more interesting than his career.

Alex looked around his cubical bathed in florescent office lights, filled with Lord of the Rings and Star Trek paraphernalia and knew he wasn't going to last here much longer. He was burning out, and fast. There just wasn't anything fun about it anymore, there used to be a challenge to it everyday when he woke up it was a challenge to learn new things and to put them into use in creative ways but that was over quickly. In six months he had become the senior tech in the entire multi-billion dollar company and was bored out of his mind shortly thereafter.

"People are just so stupid", he thought to himself. He looked up at the sign over his desk that said PEBKAC and chuckled to himself. Then the phone rang again. He looked at the caller id and saw it was Jones. "Damn" he muttered as he picked it up.

"Yeah" he groaned into the receiver, half asleep.

"Um, Alex?" she started. "Why would we be getting a ton of calls with people saying they can't get to their shared drives?"

"Oh I don't know" he replied, "somebody probably played with the permissions on the root directory, or somebody stopped the server service on the file server. Which share was it?" Alex didn't really care if people couldn't get to their stupid files but if the calls were streaming in then it would just be a matter of moments before his idiot boss came over and started asking stupid questions that were more annoying than the actual process of fixing whatever the problem was.

Just then the phone went dead and the lights flickered. "That's weird, the UPS must be having pro-" Alex's thoughts were interrupted suddenly as his computer screen flashed white, the speakers produced a deafening thunderous roar, then nothing.

When Alex woke up his head was throbbing and all he could see was shadows. His skin felt oddly sensitive cool and damp and he was laying on his back on something soft.

For some reason, despite the pain he felt charged with energy; like he could leap to his feet with next to no effort…It was an odd feeling indeed.

He sat up with a groan only the groan didn’t sound quite right; it was too…high…and soft. The shadow lifted from his eyes with a slight tickling sensation as his hair fell away but it was…black…and softer than he remembered and finer too…

“What the hell…”Alex murmured to himself but the voice that met his ears was not his own. It was delicate and high definitely in the soprano range.

“That’s odd” he thought to himself. It was then he realized he was sitting on the ground in the midst of a forest glade.

He glanced down to get his feet under him and what he saw made his world spin. Extending out from beneath him was a pair of shapely, slender legs covered by a snow white silken gown or robe or something. The bare feet that protruded from under the shimmering white cloth were positively dainty. Tiny compared to what he expected to see.

For a full minute at least he stared, uncomprehending.

Gradually a sort of hysteria began to rise within him. This was just so wrong… He literally could not process it right away and when he finally he began to understand his world began to swim again. As the hysteria began to raise so did his voice. A shrill keening wail issued from his mouth and it literally hurt his own ears causing him to clamp his mouth shut.

He was breathing heavily now confused and terrified and completely unable to handle what his rational mind was telling him. So, of course, it shut down.

Alex fainted.

When he woke up everything came rushing back to the forefront of his mind. Alex immediately felt the panic rising within him again. He breathed deeply trying to master his reaction out of an instinctive desire to control the situation. He didn’t even open his eyes yet.

A few moments later, he had regulated his breathing into a comfortable rhythm despite the anxiety he still felt. He began to pay attention to the sounds around him. He could hear his own heart beating though it sounded strange to him. He also could hear the wind gently passing through the leaves of the trees. Somehow he knew it was only a gentle breeze, nothing that he should have been able to really pick out but there it was.

Sitting up and propping himself up on his hands, he found moving easier than he was used to. Again there was that energy and ease of movement that had been so obvious before. What was more he could literally pick out each individual blade of grass by touch easily and feel the little beads of dew coat his hands, hands that had delicate slender fingers and were tipped with long nails.

Alex swallowed hard and sighed “Yep…I’m a girl alright…” trying to joke himself out of a panic attack. But his voice was not “HIS” voice at all. Rather it was a gentle melodious and light sounding one. Immediately he was struck by how lovely it was as it came to his sensitive ears.

Finally he steeled himself and opened his eyes. Vibrant colors leapt into his mind and the individual leaves on the trees 30 yards or more away were plainly visible, practically announcing themselves to his incredibly sharp vision. He raised a hand slowly and carefully to his face, still wet with dew, “Ok, no glasses…” he muttered

He gently touched the smooth soft skin of his new face, not a single bump or imperfection could he detect there. The skin was soft and smooth like a little kid. He looked at the hand closely; it was pale, almost white. The skin was fine and smooth and even his new sharp eyes could not detect any pores.

His eyes traveled up the slender wrists to the arms covered in shimmering white silk and he slid his other hand over the fabric in appreciation. “Mmm nice…” he murmured in that soft pretty voice bringing a faint smile.

His gaze followed the arm up and finally his new torso came into view. Panic again. The scintillating white gown or whatever he was wearing covered the swell of a pair of nicely rounded breasts. He swallowed hard and felt dizzy again.

Closing his eyes Alex resumed his breathing slowly and carefully. Gradually he brought a hand up and gingerly, almost guiltily ran his hand over his torso. “They’re real all right…” he said in a shaky voice made even higher with the beginnings of hysteria.

“Center yourself Alex, get your sh*t together” he chided himself “Just deal Kelly. Just deal.” he spoke fiercely determined to stop his mind from doing cartwheels.

Surprisingly he did just that. Opening his eyes again he looked around taking in the scene around him.

Not too far behind him lay a body, scorched and burnt by the look of it.

“Oh sh*t” came the small pretty voice again.

For a moment Alex stared over his shoulder, chin resting on the fine white silk robes that covered it. A gentle breeze stirred the long black hair into face caressing his cheek and he noted that the grasses around the body were scorched and burnt too.

A general sense of horror ripped through Kelly’s mind. His thoughts went off on their own “Somebody’s dead…nearby. I have no idea where I am or whose body this is I’m in… Shit, what do I do?

“You get up and deal dummy that’s what you do” Kelly said aloud in that sweet sounding melodic voice. The words sounded strange though…wrong for her mouth.

“Lle desiel?” came the voice again Kelly had meant to say “Are you ready?” to himself, but it had come out naturally in fluid roll of syllables that were nowhere near English but somehow he knew the meaning.

“Elvish” Kelly said nodding to herself and standing easily. It was so strange; she moved so easily he thought, seeing the body as someone else entirely.

With a strange-feeling easy grace she walked towards the corpse laying in the grass. It had been human he could tell that by looking at it.

About average height and a little scrawny she thought, looking at the body with a detached analytical mindset that he didn’t realize she possessed. The corpse was dressed in dark gray robes and had a scraggly brown beard though it was burnt and discolored from whatever had killed him.

The point of impact was at his chest. That much was readily apparent. A huge hole had been burnt right through his robes and fused part of them to his torso. There was an acrid smell of burnt flesh but there was also another smell in the air which part of Kelly’s mind recognized as lightning.

He seemed to have a pouch on his belt but it had been burnt all the way through. Kelly looked at him and wondered what the hell happened here but nothing came to mind. He wasn’t sure if his body’s previous owner had been involved or not but since there wasn’t a mark on her she thought not.

Kelly stared at the body, a sense of loss growing as she thought about the dead empty vessel before her feet. She turned away and walked back to where she had woken up and looked around.

A few paces away a new-looking backpack lay in the grass, it had a wide flat roll tied to the bottom like a deflated sleeping bag or something and looked to be stuffed sort of full. As she looked at the pack she also spied something brown protruding from underneath it.

Kelly walked over and picked up the pack, finding that it was hefty, but manageable. Underneath it was a miniature harp looking thing…a lyre, as her mind recognized it. It was beautifully carved out of a dark brown wood that had gold highlights in the sunlight.

She picked up the lyre and smiled as her small delicate hand closed around the familiar feeling wood. Slipping an arm through the pack strap and settling it into place she shifted the lyre into her left hand and cradled it easily in the crook of her arm.

She stroked the strings of the lyre idly and the notes that issued forth were pure heaven to her ears. Kelly picked at a few of the strings individually without really knowing what she was doing and before she realized it she was playing a song of some kind. The notes came from somewhere deep inside, someplace that she couldn’t identify, but the results were undeniable it sounded lovely.

Settling the pack on her back more fully and getting the other arm through it, she looked around trying to get some idea of which way to go.

Kelly didn’t know where to go but she wanted to put some distance between herself and the body just in case any cops came around asking questions to which she wouldn’t have the answers. In her experience the boys in blue didn’t particularly care for “I have no idea” defense.

Carrying the gorgeous lyre under her arm she turned in the opposite direction from the corpse and simply started walking.

Her sharp eyes picked out many different types of trees, some familiar, some not, as she walked barefoot through the grasses. Kelly’s small feet looked quite odd to her as she looked down at them while walking. They certainly were not the size twelve’s he was used to. They glided over the grasses lightly with the little blades caressing the bottom of each foot. It felt quite nice actually.

After a few minutes Kelly emerged from a small cluster of bushes into a clearing with a dirt road running through it. She looked down the road first to the right then to the left.

Upon glancing to the left she saw a team of horses approaching pulling a wagon. A small figure held the reigns as it approached and Kelly could see another wagon behind it rolling in her direction.

Kelly watched carefully as the caravan drew closer and she could finally see the man driving the lead wagon well the midget really. He was small and rotund with sandy brown hair and wore old fashioned looking clothing breeches and a waistcoat with a vest and shirt. He looked rather harmless really Kelly thought.

Just then a rider came up along side the caravan on horseback followed by two others. As the figure drew near Kelly began to get that now familiar feeling of panic again.

The horse was ridiculously huge, Kelly was staring at it’s shoulder as it approached and it would have actually had to bend down to bite her which it looked like it might do at any minute as it eyed her with what seemed to be innate hostility.

As big as the horse was the rider was huge too looming over her like a building from horseback and as Kelly stared up at him her heart quailed. Swinging easily from the saddle the huge man alit on the ground with an audible “chink’ of armor and weapons. He was huge, well over six feet tall with light gray skin and fangs that protruded from his lower lip frighteningly. As tall as he was he was nearly as wide too, muscular in ways that Kelly had only seen on body builders. He wore some sort of armor made of leather with spikes poking out all over and had a hand axe on each hip and a giant double bladed axe on his back.

Kelly couldn’t help but flinch a little and back up. The guy was scary. “Hold” he said in a voice that sounded like he gargled with gravel.

Kelly froze and looked at him, she knew somewhere in her heart that this was pivotal. She looked up at him and saw those savage teeth, narrowed black eyes and absolutely had to do something.

Kelly swallowed hard and began slowly “Hello sir, how are you?” Her very soul was put into those simple words pouring forth sincerity, kindness and respect in full measure. She looked up into the humorless eyes of the massive warrior and smiled softly, though somewhat timidly.

Something shifted in the back of Kelly’s mind suddenly. She felt her instincts making her reach out with her mind and gather something to herself. Her vision shifted and she could see strange eddies and currents all around in colors and shades that she could only begin to name. So much to take in… Again though her subconscious reined her in, she reached out with her mind, her hands wanted to pick at the threads and shape them but she knew she couldn’t move lest the fanged armored guy turn her into mincemeat.

The threads gathered and strange words ran through her mind, her mouth wished to speak them but she kept still and quiet as she stared way, way up at him.

“Who’re you?” the rough rumbling voice came again and a huge hand rested on the haft of a hand axe at his side.

Suddenly though, his expression softened and he gave a toothy grin. “C’mon lil lady don’t fear” he urged in a slightly softer voice.

Finally Kelly felt better feeling the situation was under control and she smiled back. “Ah…Kelly the name’s Kelly” she said in a friendly tone.

“What’ve we got Krell?” called out a voice from the wagons. Kelly turned her head to the sound and saw another small person standing on the buckboard of the wagon. This small person had a slightly different look about him than the other though. Kelly could immediately tell that he was quite sure of himself and he looked to be in charge.

His outfit was of much finer cloth and was brightly colored giving the impression of a cheery enough disposition. Though everyone knows what they say about “appearances”

Krell looked back over his huge spiked and armored shoulder and said “Nothing, just a scared lil elf-girl. Cute but not dangerous.”

Kelly blushed profusely and looked away. She was embarrassed and just a wee bit intimidated. She found herself rather at a loss for words actually, quite unused to being called “cute” in any context by anyone especially a male.

“You lost missy?” the huge warrior rumbled.

“Yes, very much so” she answered carefully, glancing up timidly from underneath her silky ebon bangs.

“Alright then, ya headed ta Waterdeep? I’ll see if the boss will let ya tag along…” he offered solicitously.

“Thank you sir, you are quite kind.” Kelly nodded. She was very exact in her speech, making certain to leave any weird little idiomatic references out and speaking very precisely and respectfully. It would be useful to be on this guys good side after all he looked like he could wreak quite a bit of havoc should the need arise.

The massive tank of a warrior led his mammoth horse away heading back towards the wagon where the short guy in the brightly colored clothes awaited. As he walked away Kelly noticed the other two mounted warriors behind him who had crossbows loaded and resting on the pommels of their saddles. The men looked pretty normal other than the fact that they wore armor and had crossbows pointed in her general direction.

Kelly marveled at the size of the horses, it was as if they were riding giant versions of the ones she’d seen on TV. The two men looked at her strangely and murmured back and forth between themselves with slight smiles.

The looks made her uncomfortable and she turned away looking over at Krell and his boss as they spoke. She couldn’t hear the words that were exchanged but she could see the little guy nod his assent to something and call up to the driver of the first wagon in some strange language that she didn’t recognize. The driver answered back in the same tongue and beckoned to Kelly towards his wagon.

Kelly looked over at the mounted crossbow-wielding guys and then at Krell, who gave her another toothy grin and shooed her towards the first wagon. Kelly could tell that the grin was meant to be encouraging but it was really quite intimidating.

Kelly nodded respectfully and walked briskly to the lead wagon looking up at the short fellow at the reins. She had seen enough westerns to know how to get to the buckboard of a wagon and stepped lightly on a rung of the wheel and grasped the side lightly with her hand. It was easy to pull herself up into the seat, surprisingly. Apparently this body was actually stronger pound for pound than her old one.

She looked at the driver and saw that he was mildly portly and weathered and had bare hairy feet of the same curly brown that was on his head. He was sweating slightly from sitting in the direct sun with no breeze to cool him. It took Kelly a moment but she realized she was looking at a real live Halfling.

He offered her a hand up and out of manners she took it finding his hand quite a bit smaller than hers. Oddly though, as she took a seat next to him she realized that he wasn’t quite as small as she would have thought a Halfling would be. The buckboard was a bit larger too than she would have thought and her bare feet dangled freely over the front.

“Ah…thank you, sir” she said softly

“Bah, tink nothin’ of it, miss” he said with an odd accent. “I’m, Glim, what’s yer name?”

“Kelly, my name’s Kelly” she answered softly

“Well Kelly, yer about four days outta Waterdeep. You don’t look like yer dressed fer travlin’ though. How’d ya git out here wit’out a horse and no trav’lin’ clothes?”

She looked over at the Halfling driver and smiled weakly and said “Glim my friend, I have no idea. I’m a bit confused…I just woke up not far from here and don’t remember a thing…” She thought it best to stick to a story that eliminated the need to answer questions for the time being. Besides, strictly speaking it wasn’t a lie or anything; she really didn’t remember anything about this place before she woke up in that clearing.

Kelly looked down at her feet avoiding the Halfling’s eyes and saw something was odd but didn’t immediately know what it was. Then it came to her. They were clean, spotless actually, and so were the robes covering her legs.

“Humph” he said as he looked sidelong at her “Yer not lookin’ like you’ve been out here long… Yer completely wit’out mem’ries?” he asked gently

“I’m afraid so yes…” Kelly answered starting to feel guilty.

“Poor thing” He said sympathetically “Ye’ jest stick wit’ us Kelly, we’ll get yer ter Waterdeep at least. Safer than out here”

From the back the brightly dressed Halfling’s voice rang out and Glim flicked the reins sending the horses lurching forward.

Kelly rode along in silence mostly, still in shock from what was going on around her. And not the least of her problems was that she was a girl. Kelly had no idea where she was except there was a nagging familiarity with the name Waterdeep.

As the wagon bounced along Kelly tucked her lyre under the seat in between some blankets and began rummaging through the pack she had brought with her looking at the various items she found and eyeing them critically.

Chief among her discoveries was a small sack of gold coins which she showed to Glim and asked “Is this a lot of money?”

Glim looked at the coins cupped in her hands and shrugged “Depends on who yer askin’. It’s a tidy sum, enough ter live on for a bit even in the City of Splendors” he nodded “Jest yer be puttin’ that away Miss Kelly afore somebody gets ideas...”

Kelly nodded and closed the little bag; grinning a little at being called “Miss Kelly” it rather reminded her of “Miss Kitty” on “Gunsmoke”. Kelly used to watch that show with her dad before the bastard had bailed out on her mom. Kelly frowned at the memory and shook her head softly to banish it.

They went on in mostly silence quite some time, Kelly’s mind still trying to wrap around the fact that she was a girl, an elf and was god knows where, riding on a wagon beside a Halfling and being guarded by something that she guessed was a half-orc. She wasn’t sure what happened back there but her instincts said that she had charmed the big fella and that was another element to consider. Kelly knew enough about legends and myths and fantasy to know that charm was beginner spell but the whole casting it by merely looking at the guy had her confused.

She had plenty to think about as they kept bouncing along on the road until Kelly’s behind was aching from the hard wooden seat and the bumpy road. Finally though, as the light began to fade they halted and struck camp at a nice looking clearing.

The guards and drivers worked together like a well oiled machine pulling together firewood and setting the wagons up in a semicircle around it just a little way from the road. Glim set to work on putting the firewood together in a classic tepee formation that Kelly recognized from god knows how many westerns.

Slowly she walked over towards the Halfling her intuition guiding her. “May I help?” she asked as sweetly as possible, sort of liking the persona she was building with these people. She was kind of happy to leave her old sarcastic arrogant mouth behind in her other body, at least for now.

“Well Miss Kelly, I bin givin’ it a bit er thinkin’” he began turning to her with a smile. “I dern’t think you are much fer work. Lookit them pretty hands o yers” he said nodding down at her hands. “I ain’t seen many highborn ladies of yer’ kind but the long nails er a dead giveaway. Yer ain’t the workin’ type Miss and that’s fer sure”

Kelly stared at her long fingernails and then the pale soft skin of her hands. “Hmmm. You would seem to be right, Glim. No calluses. Still I think I may be able to help” She walked forward towards the nice sized pile of wood and after uttering a single seemingly nonsensical phrase and rubbing her hands together. A large hot spark leapt from between her palms and landed among the dried weeds at the center of the unlit fire. Immediately little flames began to crawl up the sticks at the bottom of the soon-to-be bonfire and Kelly could feel the warmth starting to emanate from them.

The halfling arched an eyebrow at her and grinned “Aha! Yer’ a spellslinger!” he laughed with delight “That’s what yer’ doin’ wit yer pristine prettiness out here” Glim looked exceptionally pleased with himself and poked at the fire appreciatively. “Thanks fer the hand there Kelly yer’ a good soul…even iff’n yer not sure who yer are” he added with a wink.

The fire was soon burning away brightly and everyone was pleased to set to getting dinner ready as quickly as possible. Kelly was pleased at the little piece of acceptance that she managed to get from her talents. It was weird though, she felt like she was just “letting go” when she cast the spells, almost as if they had cast themselves. She had always figured that a mage or whatever would truly understand what he or she was actually doing when they cast a spell. Kind of like the difference between a computer Sysadmin and a user. One knows and one is oblivious. Kelly didn’t feel oblivious but she definitely felt...something more towards the more intuitive, feeling side of her brain almost like she was using the magic with her spirit, soul or heart. Whatever you call it.

With a friendly nod towards Glim, Kelly went back to the wagon and got her lyre. She sat away from the fire with her back against the smooth bole of a slightly bent tree that looked rather like a birch, though Kelly didn’t know for sure if it was or not. Kelly spent the early part of the evening alone strumming her lyre, her eyes closed and enjoying the amazing quality of the notes. It was interesting how much came naturally to her she noted. It was almost as if she had a silent partner feeding her information or something, but on a low almost subconscious level. It would have been creepy if it weren’t all so wonderful, she thought.

Idly picking out the notes to “Dazed and Confused” Kelly hadn’t noticed one of the guards approach her spot. It was one of the two who had backed Krell up earlier when she had joined the caravan. He had a look about him that Kelly didn’t like well maybe not a look but more like a feeling. Not to mention the fact that even at the five foot of distance they currently had from each other she could clearly smell him. He smelled pungently of sweat and leather to the point where Kelly worried she might gag. It wasn’t his fault though, Kelly reminded herself. It’s not like they had rest stops around to take a hot shower or anything, still though... Ick.

She pretended not to notice him and continued to work out the song she imagined that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would be pretty happy about an elf playing their song on a lyre. As she recalled at least Plant was a huge Lord of the Rings fan…

Ignoring him didn’t work. The big smelly guy sat down way too close for Kelly’s comfort. Again she was surprised at how big everyone was. She was sitting right next to the guy and turning towards him put her staring at his upper arm and shoulder. He was wearing the spiky armor like Krell was and that made Kelly uncomfortable too. She was way closer to those spikes than she wanted to be.

“Hey lil lady” he began, smiling at her with slightly yellowed teeth. His eyes were roving obviously over her in a way that make Kelly hard pressed to decide whether to throw up on him or run away. She did neither in actuality.

She began to tremble just a bit with the adrenalin that fear produces and looked up at him, asking very politely “May I help you with something?”

“Well that all depends” he said in an attempt to be coy. It didn’t work, nope not at all.

“Depends on what” Kelly asked coolly, her voice dropping the pretense of politeness and losing a little of its niceness.

“Depends on whether ye’d like some company lil lady” he finished “It’s gonna get a bit chilly here right soon and ye might want a big strong man to curl up next to. To keep warm ye know?”

Kelly was appalled, for a moment she was genuinely speechless. Finally she managed to gather herself and said “No. Thank you. I will be fine” as coolly and firmly as she was able. “If you’ll excuse me…” Kelly said shortly, getting up and walking away. She walked a little ways away from the camp towards a brook that Glim or someone had found earlier.

She was fuming inside. Of all the pushy, lame assed, gross, overt, obtuse and ridiculous things to say... she shivered in revulsion. “Haven’t even been a girl for a day yet and some creep’s trying to foist himself onto me…” she muttered. Shaking her head as she approached the little rivulet, she knelt down to get a drink and heard the rustle of leaves behind her.

She turned to look and saw the big man approaching. Her heart quailed; Kelly was all too familiar with the state of women’s rights in medieval times. She was also painfully mindful of how much bigger and stronger he was than her. She looked around quickly and then stood up. Inside, her fears grew as he came closer. She was ready to try the charm spell that she used before but she didn’t know if it would work. The guy liking her and wanting to be her “friend” was most likely the problem, not necessarily the solution. The leer on his face did not inspire hope however.

She swallowed hard and tried not to show any fear. “Please leave me alone, sir. I’m not interested in any company…really I just want to be alone. It’s been a long day.” Kelly tried the high road again hoping that he was a decent guy, just a little pushy.

Without missing a beat he moved in and grabbed her arms tightly while staring her in the eyes. “Yer interested all right… Let me show ye how interested ye are…” he leaned in to kiss her as Kelly leaned back, panic-stricken.

Suddenly a booming voice that sounded like it came up from the depths of hell called out “Tristan! Gods’ help ye man if you make one wrong move! I’ll skin ya alive and wear yer’ pelt for a cloak, you little…!” The voice was Krell’s of course there could not be two creatures that sounded like that.

The man who held Kelly, Tristan being his name apparently looked stricken. A look of confused fear came into his eyes and he looked into Kelly’s and saw nothing but pure rage. Kelly had recovered upon hearing Krell’s voice; it had anchored her in the here and now. She stopped being afraid and started getting angry, very angry.

To the human who had yet to let go of the beautiful elf girl she underwent a startling transformation. Her eyes fairly blazed with anger and the gold flecks amidst the emerald orbs shone with a deadly glittering light.
Sparks arced from her fingertips, snapping and popping to match those deadly pools of light that truly were the windows to her soul at that moment.

“Let me GO!” she screamed in a high clear almost painfully sharp voice her hands sending painful arcs of mini-lightning into his stomach. The tiny spikes in his armor acted like miniature lightning rods pulling every errant spark into him.

Letting out a pained yelp he did let go, and as he turned around he was just in time to greet Krell’s giant fist. The man fell to the ground with nary a whimper so hard had he been hit.

Krell eyed her with a stern, concerned look and asked “You ok?”

Kelly glared at the man at her feet, panting and trembling with a mixture of many different emotions. “Yeah, I’m fine” she lied, forgetting her elf persona for a minute and lapsing back into American English.

Krell looked at her curiously and shrugged, “C’mon back. Food” was all he added before turning and walking back to camp.

Kelly followed not trusting herself to be left alone beside the defenseless Tristan.

Kelly walked slowly back to camp, food being the last thing on her mind. She was shaken to the core. It was so utterly wrong…finally she began to understand how careful she needed to be and that this was not a safe place. Still the little lightning jolt she threw was neat and she had a feeling that Tristan wouldn’t push the issue if he ever woke up from the wicked blow that Krell had visited on him. At the very least she doubted he would try anything with Krell around. Kelly decided that Krell was a very nice person to know.

Arriving back at camp Kelly found the rest of the guards, Glim and the caravan boss (whose name turned out to be Arpen Thistletop) eyeing her and Krell with apprehension. She felt very uncomfortable under the weight of all those stares to say the least.

Kelly walked away from the fire and the crew not really interested in food, company or anything other that trying to forget what just happened. Her skin was still crawling as she made her way to her former seating place. She wanted to just sit and get rid of the gross feeling that was unshakable.

Sitting back down and grabbing her lyre she began to pick out “Thick as a Brick” instantly feeling better. She was pleased at how it sounded and enjoyed figuring it out. That lyre was a piece of home, she thought but it wasn’t that was the weird part. Kelly had never seen a lyre before today except for in a book, for this lyre to be so…important to her was just weird.

Well hell everything was weird she was a goddamned elven female! Kelly sighed as she tried again to wrap her mind around what was going on. Every time she tried to analyze it, her mind began to swim and she felt weird, almost panicky. As soon as she just relaxed and focused on the world in front of her everything kind of fell into place and was reasonably copasetic.

So she just stopped trying to figure it out. She just let it go. It was still crazy-weird being a girl now but one thing at a time. Survival was of the formost importance and to survive she would need to know things. Like what spells she could cast and so on. Kelly rummaged in her pack and brought out the journal that she had seen before. It was new and bound in fine-grained leather. She opened the cover and saw letters in elvish that were instantly familiar to her.

“Nenyalitha Adorellen” she said softly. “So that’s her name. Sorry Nenyalitha…I didn’t mean it really” Kelly spoke to herself sort of reverently, taking a slender hand and placing it over her heart. “I promise if there’s a way to bring you back…I’ll do it.”

Looking back down at the journal she saw that the first page had been written in. But it was in a weird script that she’d never seen before. The whole first page had been written but she couldn’t make heads or tails of it. “Figures” she said to herself and closed the book back up. Upon closing the book and turning it sideways to slip it back into the pack a palm-sized silvery disk fell out of its pages into her lap.

Kelly picked up the disk and looked at it. The thing was polished to a high sheen and was highly reflective, showing part of her face in its surface. She shifted the angle and looking into it saw her new face for the first time.

She stared for a good long time, finally muttering under her breath “Oh my god…” She actually had to wait and catch her breath before she could finish her thought “I’m gorgeous” in an incredulous voice.

The image in the mirror looked perfect. A slightly oval fair skinned face was framed by long shiny black hair. The skin tone was incredible; Kelly couldn’t find a single defect, pore or other mark of any kind. Her skin was very pale with an almost blue tint around the edges of the cheeks though one couldn’t really see it without looking for it. She had high elegant eyebrows and the most incredible eyes Kelly had ever seen. They were almond shaped and a deep dark forest green with gold flecks. Kelly was mesmerized.

Kelly didn’t know how long she stared but it was Krell’s massive shadow cast over her reflection that shook her from her intense exploration. She looked up abruptly and blushed, realizing how vain she must seem. Krell held a bowl in his hand and held it out to her. “Here, I had Ered leave the spices out for ye.”

She smiled up at the massive half-orc and reached out to take the bowl. “Thank you Krell, that was very kind of you.” She paused for a minute and then added “I appreciate what you did back there. It’s embarrassing but I am glad you were there, I don’t know what would have happened…” she shuddered visibly.

Krell’s massive hand patted her on the shoulder. Looking at it Kelly realized he could probably palm her head like a basketball. It was scary to say the least.

In a soft rumbling voice he just said “Best not ta’ think of it” and gave her shoulder a little squeeze. He headed back to the campfire and the rest of the crew without another word.

For a bit she merely sat in silence, but gradually the strain came fully to bear on her and she cried quietly. She didn’t know exactly what would have made anything better except just to give vent to her frustration, embarrassment and fear. She didn’t stop crying for quite a bit and rationally speaking Kelly knew she was under a lot of stress and that it was only natural.

She had all but ignored the fact that she was now in an elven female body after spending her entire life as a human male. Now admittedly Kelly had occasionally thought about what it would be like to be a girl but the reality was no amount of thinking prepared anyone for the actuality of it. She’d had no choice but to ignore the change and move on or she’d have gone insane from the strain. The mind or at least her mind wasn’t meant to deal with things like that.

Her tears flowed freely and for the first time in her memory Kelly did nothing to stop them. The strangeness of her situation and her inability to do anything about it washed through her like a tidal wave. There was literally nothing she could do but just bide her time and try to figure things out. And that was only if she could even manage to stay alive that long. It seemed that whatever this place was it was pretty violent, everybody carried a weapon, including herself now…

Finally she grew tired of listening to her own sniveling. Kelly had never been much for giving into her feelings, most of the time she’d been unaware of even having any. Fear though, that was real and this was quickly coming to her awareness that this was no dream. Despite the strangeness of it all, there was just too much detail and awareness. Not to mention discomfort.

What frustrated her the most was that she had simply stood there while that ape of a man laid his hands on her and tried to to… never mind. Best not to think of it as Krell had said, he had a decent head on his shoulders for such a rough-looking character, Kelly thought.

Kelly spent the rest of the evening in solitude while she nibbled at the stew, which turned out to have a great deal of flavor even without any spices. Kelly was amazed by it. The potatoes, carrots and onions were all like some kind of super-flavorful version of themselves. She found she didn’t have much in the way of an appetite despite the amazing stew and was only able to eat half of the bowl before finding herself uninterested in finishing.

She tried to nap a little but for some reason she was having trouble settling, and it wasn’t just the events of the day. Kelly had always been an easy sleeper. Something was just…wrong. Frowning she settled in and played a little bit of “Stairway to Heaven”. As she played the feeling of wrongness went away and she settled in curled up into a ball against the tree and just letting the music flow from her memories.

Strange images flashed through her mind as she lay there. A field of vivid greens spotted with wildflowers lay before her with a herd of unicorn grazing. It was beautiful beyond description and Kelly was only barely aware of these images as they passed, she was transfixed by them, watching them play out passively like a flashback or a daydream or something.

She watched the unicorn graze and a young elven girl with golden hair walk out to the herd slowly, the gentle breeze sending her hair fluttering out behind her. As if in slow motion all but one moved away, and the girl was left alone with the magnificent creature. Carefully the two walked towards each other and the girl’s hand caressed the muzzle of the pearly white creature. The steed moved a few steps closer to the slightly built elfling and lowered its neck to her. The girl slipped cautiously onto its back and the two came trotting towards her. The girl on the unicorn’s back looked radiant, a smile lit her face with happiness only seen when a lifelong dream is fulfilled.

The scene changed to a gorgeous palace, a throne room with a magnificently beautiful woman sitting upon a highbacked silvery throne in the center. Along each side of center carpet was a row of elven knights clad in gleaming plate mail. The woman stood and began to approach her and suddenly Kelly was overwhelmed with such sadness as she had never felt as she met the woman’s eyes. Centuries of sacrifice lay in those limpid pools and Kelly was humbled and overwhelmed by her presence.

Again the scene changed. This time to a ship made of white wood with a prow resembling a great swan moored in a harbor with gulls flying overhead. Now the feelings shifted to a different sort of sadness, more of loss and regret than anything else. A handome elven male beckoned her aboard.

Other visions followed, some passing too quickly to make sense of and others simply feelings or more faces without names.

Before she knew it, morning had arrived and the first rays of sunlight were breaking through the branches and warming her face. She blinked a few times rapidly and realized that she felt totally refreshed and enervated.

Kelly stood and stretched, finding Krell already awake sitting with his back to her talking to someone in a low voice. She approached the massive warrior to find the person that he was speaking to was Tristan. As his eyes met hers he immediately looked away and Kelly froze as her heart leapt to her throat. Krell turned and saw her approach and held up a hand to stop her approach. “Give us a moment, Kelly” he rumbled quietly.

Kelly nodded and walked back toward the brook that she had found earlier. After taking a look around, she then set to the rather oddly difficult task of relieving herself. After some very weird, complicated, moments all was taken care of and Kelly found to her chagrin and pleasure that she was immediately clean before she could even begin to attend to that matter herself.

“Aha” she murmured “That’s why I always feel like I just took a shower…these robes must be magical…”

Kelly ruminated on the possibilities and it seemed likely that the robes were indeed enchanted. As a matter of fact she was sure of it, though she had no idea why.

After getting a nice long drink from the brook she made her way back to camp and was greeted by the one thing in the world she wanted least to see. Tristan stood waiting patiently with his hands clasped behind his back and Krell standing a few paces off to the side.

“M’lady?” he asked tenatively “May I speak wit ye?”

Kelly looked over at Krell inquisitively and the big warrior nodded his approval. She turned back to Tristan and with a quirked eyebrow she replied “Yes? What can I do for you, Tristan?” her voice was cool as ice and her eyes matched it well as she eyed the oddly no longer smelly human.

“I’d like to beg yer forgiveness milady” he began as he kneeled in front of her. His hands still strangely held behind his back.

“Oh?” she asked with a slight edge of mockery in her voice. “Has Krell put the fear of death in you? You weren’t very apologetic last night now were you?”

“Ah no ma’am I wasn’t but I understand better now…how it feels to…well… to be afraid. Krell…explained some things to me”

“I bet he did” Kelly almost giggled “Well as long as you promise to keep your hands to yourself and to only kiss women who are actually interested in you, I have no problem accepting your apology. I’m curious though…what’s behind your back?”

Grimacing slightly he moved awkwardly to bring a scabbarded blade around from behind his back. It was long and thin and Kelly recognized it immediately as a rapier with a swept hilt. “I know you’re a spellcaster but I thought a nice light weapon might help you feel more secure…something you could use without much difficulty but still defend yourself with.”

Kelly reached forward to take the weapon in hand and said “Thank you Tristan, that’s actually very thoughtful of you. I appreciate it and accept it gladly.”

She took the blade and swept it free from the scabbard eyeing it critically and nodding. “-and if you ever touch me again I’ll be sure to use it on you” she grinned gently. “Oh and by the way…don’t take this personally…It’s not about you. I don’t like men.” Kelly then turned on her heel and went back to her spot back by the tree sliding the blade back into its scabbard on the way.

She picked up her lyre and made her way back towards the wagons pausing to buckle the rapier around her waist. It felt weird on her hip but not entirely alien. It was as if she had worn something like it before.

The rest of the crew were breaking camp and readying to leave. Soon they were underway again and Kelly resumed her place at Glim’s side in the front of the caravan. He chuckled at the sight of the rapier at her side and nodded with approval but no more was said of the unfortunate incident.

The day passed exactly as the one before had; quiet, long and bumpy as all hell.

The camp set up took a minimal amount of time again and Kelly was amazed at how efficient the whole enterprise was.  Everyone had a job, knew what it was and did it without delay. Kelly helped with the fire again contributing at least to some degree feeling a bit better about her contribution. This evening however she was feeling a little better about everything in general and decided to stay with the group, closer to the fire.

 Just as they were settling down for dinner Krell looked up and quickly turned around, standing in one smooth motion. “Somethin’s out there” he said in his low rumbling voice.  

Without a word the three guards who heard him were on their feet with crossbows in hand cocking them with practiced smoothness.  

Kelly watched the perimeter of the little clearing carefully trying to lend her sharp eyes to the search when a voice came out of the brush.  

“Hello the camp!” the man’s voice called. For a moment Kelly didn’t even realize that it was in English. In that split second her whole world changed again as she tried to still her pounding heart.

Krell growled back “Common, Dammit! Come out with hands up, open and empty or ye’ll be a pincushion.”  

There was a brief hesitation and the man called something back in common as he walked into the firelight.  Kelly didn’t know what he said because she was utterly numb from the realization that someone else from Earth was there. She watched him step forward and stared without realizing it.  

He was very tall, with short, dark, wavy brown hair under a fedora and green eyes. Kelly noted that he walked with a strange sort of precision, every step placed carefully by habit apparently. He was thin but not overly so and looked somewhat tired. His clothing however was what truly grabbed her notice.

He had boots and a cloak of slightly different shades of gray from each other but his blue jeans and t-shirt were what caught her attention. “He brought his own body with him…” she thought incredulously as she stared intently frowning slightly in concentration. She noted a very nice rapier at his right hip and a black sheath was strapped to his right leg below a rather large dagger.  

“If this is a dream…it’s a complicated one” she mused to herself silently.

Kelly kept her cool, outwardly at least as the tall man entered the camp. She watched him carefully, her gold-flecked eyes picking out details in his expression and manner that she never would have noticed before yesterday. She noted that he too was assessing everyone, she could tell in the way his eyes traveled systematically from one person to the next, hesitating for only a second on any one person, except her.  

When their glances met Kelly’s first impulse was to look away like she had been caught at something. Instead though, something kept her still and she met his glance with a cool, uninterested-seeming expression that was utterly natural-looking. Inside she was afraid, wondering what the hell was going on if this guy was some Dimensional Police agent sent to drag her back to the ridiculously mundane, boring, mana-bereft world of her birth. Or perhaps something to do with the dead body back in the glade that she had been in such a hurry to put distance in between her and it. Either way she wasn’t giving anything away. Not yet anyway.

 So instead she met his gaze with cold elven arrogance that somehow came naturally. Again there was that silent partner working within her. Kelly wondered if it was the poor Nenyalitha lady who had written her name in the book. But if she was inside Kelly’s head why didn’t she speak up? All she ever got were vague feelings and instincts; on the whole it was a little scary to say the least.  

All night she watched him carefully, sometimes pretending to not be but other times she just stared trying to figure out what his game was. She kept just inside the range of her hearing which was pretty impressively sharp and listened to him. She smiled gently as he gave his name which was Jack Archer, normal enough for either world Kelly noted with ironic amusement.  

The rest of the night passed easily enough but Kelly stayed closer to Krell this time hoping that her proximity to the huge warrior would stave any attempts by this unknown neighbor of hers from back home to bring her back. She propped herself back up against the wheel of one of the wagons and softly plucked out a tune trying to put something to music sheerly out of instinct. Part of her was kicking herself but she just couldn’t resist the temptation as she played around with Tolkein’s poem a bit and checked to see what kind of Terran she was dealing with.  

Gil-galad was an elven king

Of him the harpers sadly sing

 The last whose realm was fair and free

Between the mountains and the sea  

His sword was long, his lance was keen

His shining helm afar was seen

 But long ago he sailed away

And where now he dwelleth none can say  

For into darkness fell his star

In Mordor where the shadows are  

To his credit Jack didn’t start or stare or anything of the sort instead seeming to take it in stride, but Kelly began to get a rather uneasy feeling that fun and games would get her into trouble with this one. Those eyes missed nothing; there was an almost disturbing amount of clockwork going on back there behind them she thought. She’d best quit playing and mind her business lest she sell herself out cheap.  

Gradually Kelly relaxed and allowed herself the luxury of that sweet meditative state that brought her a nice refreshed feeling. It was kinda weird not laying down to sleep but she really liked the images and impressions that she relived through her hostess’ past. They came and went like falling leaves before a window in autumn. There were so many years and so much to remember, it was a wonder that these elves didn’t lose themselves under the weight of them all.

Kelly awoke to find herself among the first stirring and she looked around to see if their guest was still with them. He was.

She eyed him with something that must have looked like disdain as she wondered what would happen next. She found herself resenting his presence, wishing he weren’t here it wasn’t like there weren’t enough men here anyway, she thought.  Why couldn’t it have been a nice girl from Iowa or something? Kelly was in dire need of some good old fashioned cuddling, she was alone and scared and at near her wit’s end; but there seemed no break in the near future.  

Kelly was kind of taken aback; this kind of thinking was very unlike her. For as long as she could remember she had been completely self-reliant. Even in the worst of situations she hadn’t looked for help from anyone in years and years. It seemed that her new body or her roomie upstairs was affecting her. That was scary…very scary indeed. Kelly put her arms around herself feeling the sudden chill of fear. She rocked back and forth a little without realizing it, trying to keep herself together.

Absorbed in her thoughts Kelly didn’t sense Jack’s approach until he was next to her.

He cleared his throat and looked at her as if checking something before speaking in a soft baritone that sent a soothing sensation over Kelly’s frazzled nerves “Ah, are you cold or something..Milady?”  He leaned in solicitously as he asked, obviously concerned.

Kelly’s heart hammered away at her insides. He was decent enough…of course it could be a ploy. “A ploy for what?” she asked herself.  It doesn’t matter dumbass.” Inside her mind a battle waged, here was a person from home…or something like it.  Part of her wanted to tell him everything, to find out how he got here why he was here to beg him not to take her back and be done with the subterfuge.


f course she couldn’t do that though. Instead she merely said in a cool quiet voice, “I am fine, thank you” She was careful to keep her eyes averted lest he see how upset she was, her voice was under control…her eyes not so.

Jack straightened a bit stiffly and answered cooly “Ah, well then, my apologies, I mistook” He then turned smoothly and walked back to the fire where breakfast was being prepared.  

Kelly just wanted to cry. She didn’t but it was a close thing. She skipped the whole breakfast thing; her stomach was far too upset to deal with food.

A while later after breakfast had been taken care of and the caravan was preparing to move out she saw Jack standing alone and heard the hiss of steel being drawn. Her sharp eyes picked out the glint of metal and she made her way over to see what was happening.

Jack Archer was standing in the middle of a rough circle drawn in the dirt with his gleaming rapier drawn. The tall man stood stock straight at attention, with the blade held in front of him as if in salute to an invisible opponent. Slowly at first he began to move through a series of movements marked by precise steps much like a dance. Kelly found that she recognized certain movements and stances though she couldn’t place or name them.

Gradually though he moved into an amazingly complex series of maneuvers that made Kelly smile in delight. She just couldn’t help it. He was simply amazing with that blade; every movement was pure precision poetry. It was a breathtaking display of science and art blended beautifully through discipline, she felt. She absolutely loved it.

It reminded her of that scene in The Mask of Zorro when Sir Anthony Hopkins’ character teaches Banderas how to fight. At the end of his training it was like this only Jack was faster and more fluid. After all Antonio was just an actor playing a fencer. Jack appeared to be the genuine article.  

Kelly found that she didn’t even care that she was smiling; she really was sort of awe-inspired. “How the hell does someone from my Earth get that good with a sword?” she wondered.  “Maybe it’s not MY Earth” she theorized “IDIC…?”  

A crowd began to gather as he worked thru his exercises and Jack continued on with the demonstration or performance or whatever oblivious to his audience. Kelly finally tore her eyes from the eerily graceful man to look at the others. It was Krell that she was most surprised at though. The massive man had a wide, fang-revealing grin on his face and looked truly pleased indeed.

Finally a few minutes later he came to rest in the center of the circle exactly where he started from.  

Krell laughed “Aye, ye ken ride wit us then Jack, and welcome ye are, truly. Not too many are those with skill like that.” He nodded to the tall human and looked down at Kelly with a chuckle. “Even M’lady Kelly was impressed Saer Jack. Tis truly a feat of legend fer certain!” Krell gave her shoulder an affectionate pat and grinned down at her.  

Kelly didn’t particularly enjoy Krell announcing her appreciation for the other terran’s skills but he was a good person and meant well and Kelly had no desire to generate negative feelings. So she smiled up sweetly at the mountain of a half-orc and merely nodded to Jack respectfully.

Jack had sheathed his blade and was making his way towards her now and he was smiling as well. He pointed to the rapier hanging from her hip and asked “So do you have some skill with the blade Milady?”

Kelly had to stop herself. She loved to run lines from movies and she had enjoyed the Mask of Zorro quite a bit. The natural response would be “The pointy end goes into the other fellow?” but instead she smiled gently and answered “Some” in a non-committal fashion.  

Jack stood there for a moment either expecting an explanation or something but none was forthcoming. Kelly looked into his eyes and she knew he wasn’t taking anything at face value here. There was a whole world of calculation going on behind those bright green eyes and it scared her. For a moment they stood there taking each other’s measure, neither speaking nor moving until finally Jack blushed and broke the stand off. “Ah well perhaps some time we could… practice together or something?”

“Perhaps” Kelly replied smoothly with a soft sly smile. Internally she was alarmed at her ability to quell her unease and put him on the defensive with a mere look. The man literally towered over her and he was incredibly capable with a blade, yet something about her gave him pause. Kelly was very glad for it. She was short on advantages and he seemed to have the winning hand in every aspect. Until just now.

They set out soon afterwards back on the bumpy miserable trail. Glim made a bit of idle banter but Kelly just couldn’t bring herself to chitchat.  She was preoccupied in a major way. They were only two days away from Waterdeep apparently and Kelly had a lot to figure out.

Around midday they came upon a figure in the middle of the road crouched down and wrapped in a dark green cloak. The caravan was forced to come to a halt and Krell rode up looking quite irritated. 

As the massive warrior passed by Kelly watched him loosen his hand axe on his belt. Krell apparently took no chances. His voice was even harsher than usual as he called out “Ho there! Outta th’ way” he rumbled.

The cloaked figure stood slowly with its back towards Krell and the caravan. Krell yelled again “You there! Move!” and slipped from the saddle with a clank of arms and armor.  

Kelly’s ears picked up something, she dimly was aware of some sense of danger. How she knew that was beyond her but it was there clear as a bell, something was awry.

Before she knew it she was casting a spell again, her hands itched to make the movements required to cast it but she suppressed it and somehow did them from a spiritual perspective, maybe it was her astral self? She wasn’t sure how it was happening but it required a great deal of concentration. She began to speak the words quietly; words that she knew would protect her from bolts and arrows.  

How she knew again was a mystery to her but like everything else Kelly had no choice but to accept it.  

The guy in the green cloak wheeled on Krell with a wavy bladed sword in his hand and whistled. At that sound about 10 men with crossbows revealed themselves from the brush on both sides of the road roughly five on each side. "Dragon dung!" was Glim's only comment.

Kelly knew she was safe for the time being and said softly to Glim "Stay down" as she stood up slowly and with a stately sort of grace.

The man with the sword; a kris-blade Kelly believed it was called yelled to his men who had flanked them so well "Iff'in anyone makes a move open fire!"

Krell eyed the man balefully and said in a low growling voice "You picked the wrong merchant nitwit, This is gonna cost ya dear."

"No actually I don't think it will - Oh well what have we here? Watch them close!" The bandit-leader said as he eyed Kelly standing and gently hopping down.

Kelly for her part, felt calm and collected, she wasn't sure why but she knew that her spell would keep her safe and she felt as though she had the upper hand right now. The way this bandit leader guy was eyeing her; (despite grossing her out a bit) was indicative of an appreciation for her looks, something he wouldn't want to mar unless she gave him good reason. So long as she didn't escalate the situation it might be manageable.

"Sir", she began coolly. "What are your terms to avoid bloodshed?" Kelly's words were marvelously smooth and peaceful no bit of insecurity or insincerity crept into her tone as she addressed the bandit.

"Ah" he sighed. "The dulcet tones of a noblewoman, fantastic utterly fantastic....My terms dear lady are nothing less than the complete and utter surrender of your poor outmatched little group at which point we will relieve you of your goods and leave you to make your way to your destination unharmed."

Kelly knew immediately he was lying. She sensed his greed immediately and the idea that she might be a noblewoman probably meant to him that she was ransom worthy.  Further there was something in his eyes that told her that he had no intention of letting anyone go unharmed. This man was a cold blooded killer of that she had no doubt.

Her concern was that the fact that the four guards that accompanied them were not ready. Her confirmation that battle was going to occur put her into a defensive mode of thought and as she though of how to protect herself she felt her skin tingle just a bit. She got the feeling of being wrapped in a protective cocoon though she could see everything, she knew something was there between her skin and the world and she welcomed it.

Fortunately her face reflected nothing of her thoughts and she continued to play her game readying herself for the danger to come. "What assurance have we, that upon surrendering our arms that no harm will come to us?" Kelly worked hard at emulating what she thought the natural speech patterns of this common tongue would be.

"Why my word dear lady" he responded in almost a courtly fashion.

This guy was slightly smooth Kelly had to admit, he looked every bit the gentleman rogue and his manner suggested that he had no desire to kill anyone. Kelly knew better though. It was plain as day to her.

Kelly looked at Krell with a quirky little smile and said "Well I suppose we have no choice really..." She began to prepare a spell in her mind and then with a flourish of her sparkling white robes she spoke out in a clear ringing voice full of power unexpected to even her. "Defend yourselves! They mean to kill us!"

Kelly's eyes blazed with power and it seemed to everyone watching almost as if she were the only one present. Her robes gleamed bright white and she seemed almost like some goddess bringing her fury to bear on the hapless ruffians.

Wheeling, she turned to the crossbow wielding bandits on her right side and extended her hand fingers splayed wide and spoke a phrase of arcane power. Even as she spoke the words of power two crossbow bolts streaked towards her, only to fall at her feet stopped dead in mid air. From her wide-splayed fingertips came three bolts of radiant white energy that surged to strike three separate bandits unerringly.

From somewhere in the back she heard a similar phrase spoken and saw three more missiles strike three separate bandits on the same side; two of them who were hit previously by hers. To Kelly's immense satisfaction six more crossbow bolts arced towards her, two missing entirely and four being stopped by her protective spell. The spell wouldn't hold forever but it would hold long enough...she hoped.

Behind her she heard Krell and the bandit leader go at it with the clang of steel on steel, Kelly couldn't even begin to imagine Krell being bested by that lying bastard. Especially the bandit leader being half his size but you never know. Kelly made a mental note to check on him in a minute.

She could hear the sound of the guards in back slipping from their saddles and rushing into the brush to attack the bandits while they tried to reload. One of the guards...Tristan it looked like, was a little too slow and took a bolt straight in the chest dropping him instantly.

In a moment as she readied the same spell she saw Jack Archer sprint into the brush with his rapier drawn falling upon a bandit on the left side with frightening speed. The rogue was seriously outmatched however and was using a crossbow to defend himself against a master fencer. In a matter of a half second he was bleeding profusely from a nasty slice on his arm making keeping that crossbow between Jack and himself more and more difficult.

Seeing one of their number in dire need one of the other bandits dropped his crossbow and drew a shortsword. He began to circle around behind Jack as the other two guards engaged his cohorts.

Kelly turned her attention to the right hand side again letting fly with another volley of magical bolts. Two of the five fell groaning in pain and one out and out ran away. Kelly smiled, the odds were turning.

Kelly surveyed the field quickly, but was distracted by the pain, anger and fear that was in the air. Was she the only one who sensed it? It made her want to just crawl underneath one of the wagons and hide. She knew she couldn't though there was too much at stake right now this little caravan was family and they needed her. Kelly couldn't fail them it just wasn't in her to let them down.

The little caravan was surrounded by chaos. The bandit leader was somewhere behind her tangling with Krell. She trusted Krell to handle him though it sounded like he was having a hard time of it.

One fully healthy and one wounded on the right side. The healthy one was urging the hurt one onward and they were making their way to her. That wasn't good, her spell wouldn't protect her against a sword and she highly doubted that her robes protective properties would be enough to keep them off of her.

On the other side the two of the guards and Jack were cleaning up and two of the bandits had made a break for it. Jack had his down but one of the guards went down under a lucky hit by a bandit's club.

Jack was making his way to her now apparently he saw the two closing on her but the unengaged bandit was coming up behind him with blood in his eyes and sword held high.

Kelly's mind went wild, what to do? Without thinking she yelled to him desperately "Jack behind you!" and at first he stared at her oddly without realizing what it was she had said, before turning slightly belatedly.

All Kelly could see was the murderous rage in the bandit's eyes as he closed on Jack, and from somewhere deep inside she summoned forth power like she had no idea that she had access to.

Urgently she screamed out the words to the spell and from her fingertips came a single solid stroke of lightning. It caught the bandit full in the chest and literally picked him up bodily and slammed him into a tree, burnt and scorched beyond recognition.

Kelly stared in disbelief for a second and then the other two were on her, it was all she could do to unsheathe her rapier to defend herself. She tried her best to fend them off but within the space of a few seconds they had drawn both blood and screams of pain from her. Her arms had deep gashes in them, her parries came too slow and weak and she began to feel faint as the waves of exquisite pain washed over her.

Then Jack was upon them and never had Kelly been so grateful to see another person in her life. In the first second he dropped the slower of the two and left him gurgling in his own blood from a lightning quick slash across the throat. It may have been the haze of pain but Kelly was absolutely certain that Jack Archer was the epitome of grace and perfect swordsmanship at that point.

Kelly's awareness crept to her agonized arms and slowly she chanted a little singsong spell, different from the others she had cast, as she stood aside from Jack and the last of the bandit troops. It eased her pain almost instantly and within moments her arms only ached a little. By then Jack had the last of the bandits disarmed and on his knees with Jack's gleaming blade at his throat.

Kelly looked around and saw that Glim and Arpen had made judicious use of some throwing knives to deter any further aggression on the part of the bandits. Jack looked at her curiously and asked "Are you alright Milady?" Kelly looked at Jack with eyes full of gratitude and nodded, a bit too affected to speak.

Behind her Kelly heard a scream from what must have been the bandit leader from the sound of it and turned to find one of Krell's hand axes buried deep in the man's collarbone. He fell to the ground twitching and soon lost consciousness.

Jack ran to him and said "No, he has to face justice! We have to make an example of him. Death is too easy."

Kelly for her part merely walked among the dead and dying, her eyes wide in horror as the gruesome scene washed over her. In Alexander Kelly's entire life the worst injury he ever witnessed was a badly broken leg in a kickboxing match on television. Movie stuff was so sanitized as to not even count in that regard and he had never really gone in for that sort of thing.

Now Kelly came to the side of a downed guard, It was Tristan but he was still barely alive. The crossbow bolt had apparently missed his heart and had instead punctured a lung. Tristan had managed to twist out of the way just enough to save his life. Kelly could literally feel his pain, it made her very soul ache and tears rolled down her cheeks freely.

"Oh Tristan..." Kelly didn't know what to say but whatever she had meant to she didn't finish. Instead she reached out to him and began to chant the singsong words to the healing spell again. She pulled the bolt free from Tristan's chest with a sob as she felt the sharp burning pain of it. And a moment later Tristan was conscious and coughing up blood out of his newly healed lung.

Kelly stared at her hands for a second, blinked away some tears and moved to the other guard. His pain was worse and it nearly made Kelly pass out as she drew near. He had taken a nasty stab wound to the abdomen and his whole body was afire with agony. Kelly sobbed softly and choked out the words to the healing spell relieving the majority of the man's pain. She cast it again, easier this time to bring him fully around and feeling like himself again. His name was Edan if Kelly remembered and he was the one who pulled double-duty as cook sometimes.

He looked at Kelly with disbelief for a moment and then broke out in a great big smile and laughed. He took her hand and kissed it reverently and rose to his feet stretching. Kelly dried her face on her still aching arms and realized that the slash marks and blood were gone from her robes and as she wiped her tears off in her sleeve her face became clean, dry and fresh.

Tristan leaned up and groaned before looking at Kelly with a haunted expression. He didn't say anything but his eyes told the tale clearly enough. Guilt and contrition were there written plain as day to her. She nodded to him and moved on to check on the rest of the crew stopping by Arpen and Glim. She had one maybe one healing spell left in her

The halflings were well enough. Arpen seemed to have a serious distaste for violence and was very concerned about the status of all of his guards. Glim was immediately respinning the tale into heroic proportions to tell to the folks back home and before many versions had gone by Glim had her flinging lightning at everything in sight. Kelly laughed, god it felt so good to laugh, she thought.

Soon the situation was assessed well enough and Arpen decided to send Tristan to Waterdeep for the guard. They would bring cages for the prisoners and then the caravan could be on it's way again.

Arpen couldn't say enough about his new found friends and promised them free room and board for the duration of their mutual stay in Waterdeep

Kelly was weary in a way she had never been in all her life. She still hurt in her arms where the slashes had been and she finally broke down and cast the healing spell again. Now she felt better and she took her place beside the fire next to her friends. As luck would have it she ended up next to Jack Archer. There was a very different feeling between the two of them now. Gone were Kelly's cool disdainful looks and non-committal answers. She looked at the tall man with a mixture of respect and gratitude now, no more games she told herself. This was a good solid human being and messing this up was not an option.

They listened to Glim's retelling of the tale in draft format and offered creative embellishments to amuse his children when he returned home. It was odd but Kelly hadn't really thought of any of these people as "people" per se. She was considering only their effect on HER world not the greater world outside of her awareness. It was oddly comforting to know that Glim had a wife named Wira and 4 little kids. "Imagine how small they must be" Kelly speculated to herself.

She looked back into the fire and thought for a bit about the day. She knew she had to do it...had to.


Jack looked up, startled out of his thoughts. Kelly was looking at him  hesitantly, an expression of vague indecision on her face. Compared to the  cold, haughty attitude she'd had so far, it seemed quite out of place.

When she saw she had her attention, Kelly continued. "I was wondering if I might speak with you for a few minutes?  Privately?"

"Of course, Milady," Jack said, standing. "We can talk over there." He motioned to the other side of the wagons, well away from the prisoners.

Kelly took Jack's proffered hand gently and rose with grace and poise despite feeling a wreck. She walked slowly, her expression thoughtful and her eyes on the ground, to the indicated spot on the other side of the wagons. She wondered if anyone was watching, and what they were thinking. No matter.

She looked up into the giant of a human's bright green eyes and began slowly, "I thought it important to thank you, truly and sincerely for what you did today." Her gold-flecked dark green eyes gazed into his steadily and she gripped his arm for emphasis.

"I know you saved my life, Jack and um...I..." Kelly's eyes began to well up with tears "I haven't on anyone else for years."  She took a deep breath and tried to maintain her composure but her lip trembled a bit and she had to blink a lot to see. A tear rolled down her cheek but she made no move to wipe it away.

Kelly saw a flicker of something, and sensed that Jack didn't trust her, that she might be insincere. It was the sort of realization that upset her even more, but what made it worse was that she knew she deserved it. Here was another person, another living, thinking, feeling being who was stranded far from home and she just left him hanging out to dry. She could have been there for him and vice versa and eased the fear and anxiety that they both no doubtfelt but she had been so wrapped up in herself and her own fear that she had abandoned him. It was a shitty thing to do and she knew it.

Kelly sniffled again "Look I'm sorry...I know I've been...kinda cold..." she admitted sniffling and trying to keep from a full blown crying jag. Another couple of tears rolled down her face. She didn't want to draw attention to them so she just let them be. "I was just...scared and didn't know if I could trust you."

"Since we're being honest," he said, deciding now was as good a time as any, "I have to admit I didn't do it completely unselfishly." Jack held up a hand at the look of outrage starting to build in her eyes. "I don't mean I saved your life only to get something in return. I would have done that anyway. It's just that there was something that added a little extra . . . urgency to the moment."

"But...what do you mean...what made it urgent?" Kelly asked finally wiping the tears from her cheeks on the sleeves of her robes.  

"Well, it was when you warned me about the guy sneaking up on me," Jack told her, folding his arms over his chest.

"What about it?" Kelly asked, confused.

"It wasn't so much what you said, or why. It was *how* you said it."

"I - I don't understand."

Jack smiled then, like a chess player springing a hitherto unforeseen checkmate. "Hadn't you noticed what language we're speaking?"

Kelly realized belatedly that she had slipped into her native English when she'd gotten emotional. And from what Jack had just hinted, she'd done the same when she'd tried to warn him earlier. So much for her sly tricks and subtle subterfuge.

"Um...uh no...Oh shit" Kelly looked up at the man sheepishly and simply said "So you know..." it was a question, but it wasn't it didn't bear asking.

Jack lifted his left hand, showing the ring he wore on one finger. "This lets me understand and speak languages. However, it doesn't keep me from telling who is speaking English around me."

His mouth quirked. "So yes, I know. And if you don't mind, I'd like to know how in the world you managed to get to Earth. And how you hid those ears. More magic?"

Kelly stared at him for a moment, confused and then she actually smiled somewhat giddily. Amused that he had it backwards. “What the hell” she thought “He’s already onto me…”

"Actually Mister Archer,” Kelly began in good old-fashioned American English “I'm not native to this place...Um well…My body is but my consciousness isn't. I woke up here in this body and I've been trying to sort it out ever since"

Jack blinked, surprised. "You, ah, aren't really an elf?"

"Ah...well I suppose that's a matter of semantics. In all actuality inasmuch as we really are standing here, I am thoroughly elvish. Historically however? No, I was not born an elf and I spent 30 years as a human on Earth. So call it however you wish." Kelly grinned ironically and shrugged in resignation

"Okay." Jack nodded. "Makes as much sense as anything else here, so far. How long ago did this happen?"

"A few days ago... like a day before you found us... I hope you aren't mad...I just wasn't sure. I'm really sorry Jack, I was just worried..."

"Worried about what?"

"That you were after me..." Kelly said softly. She was worried that this was a bad idea but she was tired of hiding things and was desperate to be rid of the games. "When I woke up I was near a body, a body that had been fried by lightning."

"After you?" Jack blinked again. "How could I be? I'd have to have somehow monitored you leaving Earth. That's like some sort of conspiracy theory." He paused, then grinned. He stepped back and spread his arms. "See? No sunglasses, no Armani suit."

"Yeah well it's just as likely as any other scenario that I could come up with at the time. I mean if two of us came over how many others came and how..." Kelly smiled softly at him and looked utterly relieved.

Jack frowned. "Yes. Your . . . transfer, for lack of a better word, possibly happened the same time mine did." He looked at her form frankly. "Obviously, we weren't affected by the magic in the same way. Maybe you didn't get enough of the effect?" He rubbed the back of his neck. "Did you have a lightning storm?"

"I dunno...I was at my desk and there was a roar and and all the electricity went out. Could have been a lightning strike, I'm sure. Where were you taken from?"

"Outside of Crownsville , New Jersey . There was an SCA Faire going on, but everything stopped when this wild lightning storm came up. I got hit, and the next thing I knew, I was here."

"Damn" Kelly giggled "Some people will do anything to get outta Jersey ..." She smiled reasurringly at Jack, adjusted the circlet on her head and combed her hair back absently with delicate fingers. That made sense, Jack had been at one of those SCA things… hence the rapier and cloak and whatnot. It was the fact that Jack had appeared already outfitted for this world than had initially concerned her. As if he might be at home here and have the familiarity advantage.

Jack laughed softly. "Well, I don't actually live there, so most of those tax problems don't concern me. I just go to Princeton ." He stopped then, a frustrated frown on his face. "I mean, I used to. If you're trapped here too, I guess I'm back to where I started. I was hoping that you would know a way home."

"Yeah...I'm sorry Jack I have no idea how to get back. But I'll tell you a secret... I'm really glad you are here. Having someone here from home... I dunno... It just makes me feel so much better, ya know?"

Jack tilted his head, considering it. "Yes, I suppose I do know what you mean. Of course, up until now, I thought you were a real elf. Um, I mean, always an elf."

He paused and then shrugged. "So did you look like this, um, before? I mean, is this you, just…elf-ified?" He snorted softly at his coining, but he couldn't think of another way to put it right then.

"No I didn't look anything like this and I think I was a lot bigger... How tall are you anyway? I'd kinda like to figure out how tall I am using you as a reference If I can..." Kelly answered evasively and quickly shifted the conversation back to Jack’s court. If she told him the whole story, he might not be so eager to help and protect her, she worried.

"About a hundred ninety-four centimeters" he answered.

"Gee that helps...let me whip out my handy dandy conversion chart...oh wait I left that on my other body..." she quipped sarcastically.  

"Sorry, sorry -- I just like doing that to people. Metric makes so much more sense -- pretty much the only good thing to come out of the French Revolution. Certainly nothing else 'scientific' was good from that." Jack shrugged. "Anyway, I'm six-four."

"Hmmm ok then, let’s see…” Kelly stood closer to Jack and told him "Ok put your hand on top of my head and see where I come up to on you, please?"

 "Um . . . okay." Jack moved a little closer looking slightly uncomfortable.  

"Ah, you look to be about . . . five feet at the most. Probably an inch or two less."

"Damn no wonder everything seems so huge. That explains a lot. Thanks Jack." Kelly stepped back and smiled appreciatively up at the tall human.

Kelly reconsidered telling Jack about her former gender assignment. This would never work if she lied to him. Plus, what if he found out that she’d been lying… AGAIN.  He might never trust her at all. She couldn’t afford to lose her only connection home. Plus they should stick together…It just made sense. So finally she resigned herself to the ugly task at hand. "Oh...I should probably tell you something else...though I'm not sure how to put it...This is kind of weird and well…whatever. But I used to be...well...a guy.”

Jack looked as if he didn't understand at first, but slowly it appeared to sink in. "You . . . weren't a woman...  before?" he asked with a sheepish expression as he did so.

Kelly instantly felt a change in his attitude toward her. It rather felt like a slap in the face with a cold cloth. The fondness, the affection all that warmth was just gone. Hell it almost hurt. She swallowed hard and answered "No. I wasn't. I wasn't going to say anything because of the weirdness that is about to ensue between us due to it.

"Um, yeah." Jack looked away and blushed heavily. "Well, not exactly your fault . . . ."

"But I decided that I don't want to hide anything from you... You saved my life Jack I owe you the truth at least. I'm different now though... My outlook has changed and I'm sure a lot more emotionally expressive than I used to be."

"Of course I still like girls which may make me one very lonely elf..." she sighs "I doubt there is a serious lesbian movement here..."

"No . . . I suppose not." Jack frowned and glanced back to the others by the campfire. "I'm not certain, since they didn't really speak about it much, but in medieval society I suspect any lesbian would be considered a witch. Not that it took you much to be called one back then . . . ."

Jack stopped then, and grinned. "Of course, you might not have that problem, at least. These folks have no issues with you using magic, and so I guess they don't have a problem with witches."

"It will all come down to what religious freak is in charge and what the belief system of the moment is." she sighed.

Jack's grin fell as if deflated. "Good point," he said. "We don't know what kind of religion is in power here. Even if it's Christianity, I doubt that it's as tolerant as the Roman Catholic Church is. It could be some fundamentalist sect. Or something gone bad." He thought for a moment. "There was a novel series that dealt with a similar idea. It dealt with a Church that strongly disapproved of all the witches and warlocks running around, but couldn't do anything to them except in special circumstances."

"And going back to the lesbian issue, I don't remember many cultures being tolerant about it at all until the US started accepting it. Even the Greeks considered it a bit . . . strange. A bit two-faced, if you ask me -- grown men in Athens were open about their relationships with young boys."

Kelly interjected, adding "And lets not forget the polytheism of the Greeks, Romans, Hindu's and Egyptians etcetera etcetera. I think historically speaking the "one god" concept was kind of limited to only a few cultures."

"Either way until we have more info it’s all speculation. We need something to base our information on..."

"Right." Jack thought for a moment. "When Thistletop mentioned this place called Waterdeep, he said it like someone back home might have said 'New York' or 'Hollywood.' I didn't want to give away how little I knew about it, so I couldn't ask. Have you found out anything?"

"Nah” Kelly answered “I've been playing amnesiac for the most part. I didn't want to start telling tales of other lands and so on and find out that they were xenophobes or something. Mostly I've just been trying to deal with this whole female elf body thing. I really wish I could get a good look at myself..."

"Well . . ." Jack blushed. "You're very pretty now, but, um, kind of hard to describe. Even if it weren't for . . . you know.

"But I know I've got a spell to project illusions in the spellbook I… acquired." Jack shrugged at Kelly's questioning look. "There was a guy who attacked me after I woke up. I knocked him out and took his things. He had a spellbook, and I've been studying it. I guess since you got . . . put in that body, you have fully-formed knowledge of magic. I seemed to be able to suddenly have spells, but they went away, and I have to keep renewing them with the book.

"Anyway, the point is, I might be able to project a mirror or something. Maybe like one of those multi-surface mirrors at the department store or something."

Kelly nodded appreciatively at the idea "I have a little mirror thingy in the pack I found near me when I woke up but it's woefully inadequate, that would be wonderful"

Kelly smiled at Jack and said "Thanks for being so...good about all this. I know it's a bit  much...especially...considering" She sighed sounding somewhat shut down.

Jack blushed again, not as deeply as before, but still evident. "Um, you're welcome." He seemed to have a hard time meeting her eyes. "Although, the illusion thing will have to wait a bit. At least until the morning -- I've prepared my capacity for spells already. According to the book, I can't prepare new ones until after a full night's rest. It doesn't say why – it was just a sort of standardized guideline at the start. I think it might have been written by the guy's teacher."

Jack looked at the rest of the group again. "Any anyway, it might look a bit strange to the others. We should probably wait until we get to Waterdeep."  

"Yeah probably it would indeed. Kelly agreed. “Though if I'm half a pretty as I think I am I could probably sell tickets." she giggled melodically.

At Jack’s comments about his book of spells she nodded, listening closely "Gee that's funny I have a book too but it's only got one page in it and Ican't understand a word of it. Kelly said looking thoughtful.

Jack knit his brow. "Strange. The spellbook's symbols were hard to understand, but I managed to figure them out. I haven't done it for all of them, but somehow I knew the basics. I had to use spells for the ordinary text notes the previous owner used, though."

"For me the spells just sort of come out, I see things differently and feel things. And then they just come out when I need them. It's certainly not anything like I thought a witch would be or a mage or whatever...I need to find out what the hell is up with that too"  

"I'm hoping this Waterdeep has a good library or something.” Jack said hopefully. “I -- I mean, WE really need information."

Kelly smiled kindly up at the giant of a man and added "Well I’m pretty good with people so I will start grilling everybody a bit more and seeing where things lie. Then we can get back together and share info"

"Sounds like a plan."

"Maybe there's a magic school in Waterdeep or something." Jack grinned. "Hey, if we've got an elf, two hobbits, and a halfblood orc here, maybe there's a Hogwarts."

"Oh God I hope not!" Kelly giggled softly "I hope that magic is at least kinda rare I'd like to have some sort of saleable skill to survive on here...”

"Good point. Very good point." Jack frowned again. "I have some money, but I don't know how much it's worth. I might be able to get a job doing something other than magic -- I made a pretty good living back home by teaching rapier, sabre, and duello. I might be able to do the same. Krell said that rapier fighting is rare, and in our history it started in big cities. It's annoying having to carry around armor and a big sword in case you got challenged."

"Yeah" Kelly smiled "You were amazing with that thing. Those guys barely had a chance to blink" Kelly was fairly gushing with admiration.

"Heh." Jack managed not to blush this time, but he still looked embarrassed. "Thanks. Sort of. It wasn't fun. It made me feel . . . cold, kind of. I've never used a rapier to hurt anyone deliberately before I came here. And those were the first people I killed." He sighed. "Had to do it, but it doesn't feel good. I suppose I should be glad for that, I guess. I don't think I would want to be a person who took death lightly."

"Yeah I was much harder on me than I thought it would be.” Kelly confessed “Even though I've never been a violent person. It still hurts when I think about it..." Kelly took a deep breath "Damn somebody please stop me before I start crying again..." she tried to joke but it came out sort of sickly and sad.

Kelly sighed deeply and looked up at Jack and shook her head. "I think it was a lot easier being a guy Jack. A LOT easier. I am just a wreck."

"Well . . . if it helps, I think I'd be half-crazy from a complete sex change . . . not to mention ending up as a different species." Jack chuckled. "There was a recently published SF novel where a human got transformed into an elf. Of course, she was female to begin with, but she had to adapt to all sorts of things. For instance, as an elf, she couldn't drink beer without feeling sick. She was a bit ticked off about that." He said the last in a slightly ironic tone, hoping to make Kelly feel a little humor.

"Aw shit" Kelly said softly "I didn't even think of I really liked beer too, I have a feeling I am going to be every bit as pissed off as she was, if not more so. I guess it's kinda funny though..." she sighed again clearly not all that amused

“Well, that was a work of fiction. Maybe elves here can do it. Have you noticed anything strange about your body?" Kelly looked at him with her hands on her slender hips and one elegant eyebrow raised. Jack blushed again and corrected himself "Um, I mean, besides the . . . um, obvious differences."

"Nah she was right whoever she was. All my senses are sharper, especially taste. Touch too my skin is so sensitive now that I have a really low pain threshold..."

Kelly smiled gently at the poor guy. He was trying so hard to be nice. She touched his arm gently and said "Thanks for trying to cheer me up it’s really kind of you. I'm just in a tough spot right now."

"C'mon” Kelly gestured back in the direction of the campfire “Let’s get back to the rest I'm getting tired of listening to myself whine."

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