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Archives: Quest for Neria

Chapter 1: Resuming His Search

    Jereidon had no luck in Shining Hill in finding leads on his sisters whereabouts. Since his previous traveling group had split up, he had been trying his best to keep his wits about him. Now he only could move onto the next place, hoping to find information there. Sitting in the common room of the inn he had been staying at, he sighed and continued to eat his meal.

    “We’ll find her soon I hope, and no I will not let her make me get rid of you,” he spoke to Neria who was in her cage, seeming to be rather calm despite his sense of disappointment.

    A short, red-haired half-elf girl entered the inn, looking as if she had just come in off the road. She was dressed for travel, carrying a small knapsack, and had weapons on her belt. The half-elf looked around the common room, studying the patrons. Her bright blue eyes fell on Jereidon as he spoke to something under the table.

    Curiously, she edged closer to see just what he was talking to. There was a cage, but the shadows didn’t allow her to see what it was. She crouched down next to the table, and without bothering to introduce herself, she asked, “What’s in the cage?” while squinting to try and see the creature.

    Jereidon looked to the half-elf, surprised. Would she be frightened at what Neria was? Though her curiosity was rather welcome, it seemed everybody overlooked the cage.

    “My familiar Neria, she’s a giant spider hatchling. I hope that doesn’t scare you, I have to keep her cage covered for obvious reasons. I’m Jereidon Thappis, traveling mage and seeker of knowledge.” He nodded his head politely and took a drink of his tea, watching the elven girl with patient eyes.

    “A giant spider?” Katela crinkled her nose for a moment. She wasn’t fond of spiders, but her mother taught her to respect all living things. Spiders had their place in the world, after all. “Wow, that’s a pretty interesting familiar,” she mused. The half-elf hopped back up to her feet and presented her hand to Jereidon. “Katela el’Baran of the Mirror Forest,” she introduced herself. “I’m just out to see the world, myself.”

    Jereidon smiled and nodded in return. Katela seemed to have no particular agenda in mind, perhaps they could help each other. “It’s an interesting story about her, and don’t worry she’s quite well mannered. It’s nice to meet you Katela. Most of the world I’ve seen from my masters books and maps, so I have not visited the Mirror Forest. I’m also searching for my little sister, who was never found after my parents were killed. I want to believe she is alive, even if she is dead it will bring me some peace. Have you been away from home long?” He did not want to ask her without sounding presumptuous. Traveling alone was actually quite boring when all he had was his familiar to keep you company.

    “Err... a couple weeks,” Katela replied, but she was more interested in everything he said before he asked about her. “Your parents were killed and your sister is missing? That’s so sad! How long ago did that happen?”

    “She’d be ten now, it was almost eight years ago. They never found her, and I was too busy with my studies to be able to do anything. I’ve been searching for a year, I also have found the former soldiers responsible,” he answered her as best he could, considering he had found nothing so far. He might as well ask, she seemed like someone with a sense of adventure. “A couple of weeks...would you like a traveling companion? I know how boring it gets traveling alone, and I am sure that it would be fun.”

    Katela pulled out a chair and sat down at Jereidon’s table, since he invited her. “Sure, I wouldn’t mind helping,” Katela said, a little more subdued. The subject was a lot to confront a stranger with, but she was willing to listen and help. It wasn’t as if she had anything better to do. The few details he gave her were like two tiny pieces of a puzzle. “Why don’t you tell me the whole story?”

    Jereidon thought for a moment, going back through his memories to where this one began. “It was about eight years ago; my family was on their way to see me on my birthday. That year they never arrived, I waited up all night until I could not stay awake. About a week later, the message arrived they had been killed by Marmo soldiers, and that my sister was missing. She would have been two at the time, so she would be about ten. The soldiers escaped, that was where this began.” Taking another drink of his tea he continued, skipping ahead to when he had found the same men and met Neria. “Several months ago I was traveling, some bandits in the area had jumped me and I managed to fend them off with my staff. One of them had my mother’s pendant, which I managed to rip from his neck. I was forced to take refuge in a cave for shelter; I could not carry on with my injuries as they were. There I met Neria, well, she had no name then. After a week I was able to carry on, and she came with me as well. I decided to name her after my sister, probably just so I would not forget my goal. That’s what happened, of course I thought how Neria came to be with me was an interesting afterthought.”

    Katela listened carefully to his tale. It didn’t sound good for his sister, but if her body hadn’t been found, perhaps there was some hope. That was the hope he had to be clinging to, but Katela was a little more objective. “Neria is her name, huh?” Katela said. The half-elf began to consider a course of action. “Maybe they took pity on her and gave her to someone else to raise? I doubt she would remember you if she was only two years old and you were away from home, and you may not recognize her unless she bears a striking resemblance to you or your parents. We would have to find these bandits and interrogate them, but we need fighter support. One wizard and a ranger can’t handle a band of brigands on our own after all!”

    “I only hope I can recognize her if she is alive. Still, she would know the pendant I wear. It’s my only means of her knowing who I am, and perhaps you’re right. She might have been left with someone, or where she could be easily found. Thank you Katela, I am grateful for your assistance.” Jereidon had already been left wounded once by them, though he was not the hardiest of people. All those years spent reading books had their price, Katela was right about needing support. Though she only mentioned one type, there was also another support that might become necessary in this matter. “It would also do well to get a priest or priestess, there was at least half a dozen of them. If we do find them, then I want them brought to justice for their actions via the courts.”

    Katela didn’t want to ruin his hope for his sister recognizing him, but it was just so unlikely. “I don’t think a two year old would remember something like that,” Katela said in a concerned tone. “Anyway, we’ll have to see about a priest. It’s a lot easier to find a traveling warrior than a traveling priest. But before we start building a team, I need some food first. I’m famished!” With that, Katela motioned over a barmaid and asked for a plate of whatever they had cooking—sans meat.

    Jereidon did seem a little too hopeful sometimes, though that was partly what kept him going. In this search he had not seen much luck, but still he knew that Katela was right. “I’m sure we’ll find one, though I had given thought to hiring a mercenary for protection a few weeks back. A wandering wizard is easy prey for bandits, but then I chose to take the risk.”

    “It’s not a good idea to travel alone,” Katela replied. “I had a run in with bandits too a week ago. It was just a couple men. I summoned Undine and blasted one, and while the other was distracted, I ran off into the woods and escaped them. I didn’t want to hurt them, and that was the best I could think of at the moment, but thinking back, I could have just used a sleep spell on both of them...” Katela’s blue eyes drifted up towards the ceiling as she thought back.

    Jereidon listened and wondered how he had escaped from his encounter, then he remembered that he had used a minor lightning spell to create a blinding flash. “Back then, I used a rather minor lightning spell to blind and stun them. I’d rather not hurt people myself. I’d rather use my knowledge to benefit people, I’ve never actually used a spell to attack someone.”

    “Yeah, I don’t know if I can bring myself to kill someone,” Katela replied. “I know how to defend myself, but I don’t know if I could really kill someone if I had to. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.”

    The barmaid returned and set a steaming plate of potatoes, vegetables, and a big slice of bread in front of Katela. “Would ye like anything to drink with that?” the barmaid asked.

    “Oh, could you refill my waterskin?” Katela asked, and handed the sack over to the woman.

    “Of course,” the barmaid took the waterskin and left for the kitchen again as Katela began to eat voraciously. After a long walk, she was starving.

    “I hope so too. I think that it is the law that should decide a criminal’s fate. Still, a part of me wants to kill them, though I’m not going to no matter what,” Jereidon replied after Katela started to eat. He wanted to see justice done in any way possible without death. Though he wondered, could it be avoided?

    “Yeah, let the law figure it out, because I don’t want to!” Katela said around a mouthful of food. She was so hungry she didn’t bother with manners. After swallowing, she added, in a much more serious tone, “But it looks like the law hasn’t done much in this case.”

    The barmaid returned with Katela’s waterskin. The half-elf thanked her and took a swig of water before put it back in her pack.

    “There’s nothing they could have done. Normally attacks like that don’t have any actual witnesses besides survivors. Unless we get them to confess, I doubt the law can do much,” Jereidon admitted in reply, knowing that them confessing was as likely as him picking up a sword and using it properly. He still hoped it would end without death, but then he always preferred peace to violence.

    “Well, at the very least, we could probably get them arrested under the accusation of being bandits. I don’t know what sort of punishment Alania does—or whatever nation they’re in,” Katela replied, then continued eating.

    “I doubt they’d see outside of a dungeon cell for a while. If there was proof they’d killed then I think they’d be executed for murder.” Jereidon finished his drink of tea after replying. He knew that she was most likely correct in her thought. Of course if that was the most probable outcome, he would have to accept it.

    From the back of the bar came a gruff voice, “Hold still you! Or I’ll bash you with my mace and tend to your wounds anyway.” The dwarf, Brynn, stood above a human with a gash on his forehead. The human was obviously drunk and didn’t know what the dwarf was doing to him. “Just lay there, dammit. You passed out and smucked your head. You’re bleedin’ all over the bar, and I’d hate for these good folk to have to clean up after you.”

    The man reached up and touched his forehead. Pulling away a bloody hand, he fell into blissful unconsciousness.

    “There that’s better.” Brynn knelt next to the man, laying one hand upon the human’s wound. Brynn looked up into the air and began to chant. “Let almighty Myrii heal your wounds.” A soft glow flowed from Brynn’s hand into the man’s skin, closing the wound. Brynn stood up and looked at the bartender admonishingly. “You’ll have to clean up his blood, but that’s the price you pay for not cutting him off before he put himself into this position.”

    Katela’s ears perked at the commotion behind her. Turning in her seat, she looked back to see the dwarven priest healing a patron. The emblem on his chest told her he was a priest of Myrii, the war god. “Hey, this might just be our lucky day. A warrior and cleric rolled into one!” she said to Jereidon. “Do you want to ask him to help us?”

    Jereidon looked to where Katela had been looking after she spoke. Seeing the dwarf he smiled. “Of course, Katela. Perhaps these meetings aren’t chance. I’ll return in a moment, or please feel free to join me.” He walked over to the dwarf and the bartender, considering he was right about the drunken man.

    “Only a fool would treat his body this poorly. If this man wanted to drink like this then he is such. Would you like to join us at our table my friend? I have something I wish to discuss with you.” Pausing, he realized he forgot to introduce himself. He hated when that happened since it was better to do so before speaking. “Jereidon Thappis, traveling mage and seeker of knowledge.”

    “Brynn, wandering cleric of Myrii,” the dwarf answered, wiping some of the drunk’s blood off of his hand. He picked up his half eaten plate of food and mug of water. “Where are ya sittin’? I don’t have much in the the way of knowledge to share with you, unless you want to know about Myrii, or tricks to care for the wounded.”

    “Good meeting you, Brynn. Right over there, the table with the woman and the cage under the chair. I thank you for your company, and I hope you will consider my words.” Jereidon led Brynn to the table and sat back down, looking to Katela and waiting for her to introduce herself.

    “Hi there!” The sunny little red-headed half-elf waved to Brynn. “I’m Katela. Who might you be?” she asked the dwarf.

    The half-elf’s cheery greeting brought a broad smile to Brynn’s face. “Brynn at your service.” He gave a little bow himself, then unceremoniously plopped his plate at an empty chair. “You two sure are an odd pair,” Brynn said looking from the human to the half-elf, still smiling the same big smile. “I can tell just by the look of you, that adventure will follow the two of you around like a stray dog begging for food. Speaking of dogs, your pup under the table is bein’ pretty quiet.” Brynn liked all manner of beasts, but as he bent over to examine the cage, he wasn’t ready for what he saw.

    Jereidon laughed a little and shook his head, that was the first time Neria had been called a dog. Looking to Brynn he clarified what Neria was, of course, he hoped Brynn would not be too shocked. “Neria is just a baby giant spider, she had been left abandoned and alone several months ago. Since then she has become my familiar, and she is quite tame I assure you.”

    Neria poked a leg out of the cage to investigate Brynn, she was curious as to him just like he was curious about her.

    “YEARGH!” Brynn shouted. After the initial shock wore off, Brynn calmed down. “She’ll have to forgive me if I don’t get too cozy.”

    “Um, I think I may know what happened to her mother,” he paused not wanting to upset the little monster. “You say several months ago... I was asked to go into some mines, to search for what they thought was a collapse. Turned out that the mine hadn’t collapsed, but this one’s mother had moved in and was living a life of leisure. What a better deal, her lunch kept walking right to her.” It was an odd topic for sure, and it didn’t seem to bother the dwarf one bit talking about it. In fact as he spoke he popped a potato into his mouth, and continued with a mouthful of potato, “Well I’m no monster hunter, thats for sure. Soon as I saw the man in front of me get caught in the web, I had second thoughts.” He popped another potato. “I grabbed that guy and pulled him free and high tailed it out of there.” Then in a lower voice, so that the spider below the table wouldn’t hear. “They sent in a bunch of hunters after I came out, and they uh... they were successful,” Brynn paused to let his story sink in.

    Jereidon listened to the story and realized why she had been so hostile towards him at first. In a sense she really was like him. Her kin had been slain, just as his had with one possible exception. “I guess she was lucky to have survived, though it was probably not a coincidence she met me. Perhaps the gods have a strange sense of humor, were it not for her that time I might have died.” He looked to the cage with a smile, almost forgetting that he wanted to discuss the matter of his search with Brynn. Letting him catch up, he waited before speaking again, he did not want to hoard the conversation.

    “Now I don’t want to upset your pet.” He subtly—or not so subtlety—pulled his chair away from the cage a little and slid the plate over. “It might have been a totally different spider family. All giant spiders look the same when you’re running for your life, if you know what I mean.” The dwarf was smiling, trying to lighten the mood a bit after his gruesome tale. “You said something about a matter of discussion?” He sat down and stuck his fork into a bit of meat waiting to hear Jereidon’s reply.

    Jereidon nodded in agreement. When Brynn brought up the discussion, he cleared his throat and sighed. “I first would like to explain a situation, one that has been my main search for some time now. It relates to my family and the fate of my younger sister who is missing, I would like your assistance in this. But before you decide, here is my situation.” He would get to the point this time, and make it clear what happened. Starting to speak, he leaned back, and his voice sounded like he had made up his mind to pursue this fully. “This was several years ago, when I was younger and still an apprentice to my master. One year, my parents were on their way to see me for my birthday with my little sister was two at the time. They were waylaid by some Marmo soldiers, and in the fight, they were killed. They never found my sister Neria, she was unfortunately missing. I had to wait until my master felt I was ready to leave his house, and since then I have been looking for her. The bandits that drove me into that cave were the soldiers who attacked my family, I found my mothers necklace on one of their necks. I want to find my sister even if she is dead, and in order to see that end I need allies. Would you be willing to join us? I would be honored if a priest of your skills were on out side.”

    “Yeah, I’m his first ally so far,” Katela spoke up. “I’m just a ranger and shaman though, and he needs a real fighter to protect him.”

    “Modesty is a virtue one does not find often in elves, my lady.” Brynn smiled at Katela. “As for you my fine wizardly friend, flattery will get you nowhere with me. Priest of my skills, ha! That’s a good one. You had me at the story of your life. It rings very similar to my own. As a wee lad I was sent off to a monastery of Myrii. This was at the same time the Kingdom of Stone was destroyed. All of my family had lived there, but like yours they are gone to a better place now.” Even after all of these years, the memory of his lost family caused him pain. Brynn sat back and pushed his plate forward, still half full.

    “Neria...Neria. That name does ring a bell, and not just your little beasty under the table.” As Brynn continued, he took out a piece of cloth and unfolded it, then he picked up his plate and began to scoop the food onto the cloth. “I think I knew a human girl in Roid by the name of Neria.” Brynn paused what he was doing and looked directly at Jereidon. “Now brace yourself lad, this is not a pretty story. I was brought in to a local brothel about six years ago, some Marmo troops had messed up one of the girls pretty bad. Cut her face up and what not. I saved her, but she wouldn’t be to much of a money maker anymore.”

    Brynn thought about what he just said and realized how insensitive it was. “ I warned ya, its not a nice story. It was some time ago, and I’m not sure what became of her after I left. I do know that a couple of the men who did it to her won’t be harmin’ anybody else, thanks to a trusty little knife she had hidden on herself. Them I couldn’t save, or reattach the bits that had become unattached. Ahem,” he cleared his throat. “Thats not really talk for the table, so I’ll not speak of the detail of their injuries any further.”

    “On a different note, the men who attacked you, are they still out there?” After finishing placing his leftovers onto the cloth, he lifted the corners and tied the top. Already the oils from the food had begun to soak through the bottom. “Trinkets like a necklace tend to change hands very often with the sort of bunch you’re talkin’ about. Holding onto jewelry is a luxury most of them can’t afford. Especially when it’ll buy you food. Unless that particular bandit had some very strong reason to hold it, he may not be the one who did your family in.”

    Katela looked at Jereidon, judging his reaction. Could the girl be his sister? Or maybe she just happened to have the same name. Her heart sank to think of his little sister ending up in such a deplorable line of work.

    Jereidon listened and seemed uneasy, he had to be sure of this girl. However, it was six years ago, his sister was just a child. “She would have been four or five at the time, it’s probably not her. How old was this girl incidentally? If she is still alive, perhaps she has found a better life. My sister would only be ten about now, but just as beautiful as our mother.” He seemed relieved to know that this was not his sister, after all, to have a child in a brothel would be absolutely depraved.

    “Aye, she would have been older than five. By Myrii, I hope she was older than five. No, this girl was around the age of fifteen I would guess, but in her line of work it was hard to tell. At the most she could have been as young as twelve or thirteen, but still too old to be your sister.” He looked down at the table to see if his two new companions were finished with their respective meals or drinks. “I would like to deliver this little package...” he lifted the knapsack of food, “ some of the homeless before it sits to long. Are you going to be here when I return? Or can I find you some other way?” Brynn looked from one to the other. “After distressing you so with that story, I must certainly accompany you to find you sister.”

    “Your story, however, makes me feel truly sorry for the girl. I hope that she was able to escape that wretched life and live a better one after that,” Jereidon replied. “If you have food that needs to be delivered, then I will accompany you if you would allow me. Perhaps one of them might know something, I only just arrived in town very recently.” Jereidon finished his tea and looked over to Katela, wondering what she was going to do before they day was out. The idea of asking the homeless for information seemed like a good start, since they might have picked up more rumors or truth than the common people.

    “You are both welcome to come along.” The dwarf looked at his new companions. “They may be a bit more talkative once they get something to eat.” He smiled his typical broad smile, it was evident that this was the cause of the crows feet on the corners of his eyes.

    It was a relief to hear that the prostitute couldn’t have been Jereidon’s sister. Katela’s hopes rose again for the girl. The half-elf stood up as Brynn offered to let them tag along. “Sure, it’s not like I have anywhere else to be,” she replied.

    “Great, then let our adventure begin at the bottom. For after we leave there, we can go only up.” Brynn stood with his care package and headed towards the door, waiting once he got there to allow Jereidon to gather his ‘pet’. The squatters pretty much all stayed in the same part of town, he wasn’t too picky as to who he would give the food to, as long as the person actually needed it and wasn’t pretending they were worse off than they actually were. “Ready, my friends?”

    Jereidon stood up and left the money for the table with the barkeeper. Turning to the others, he picked up the cage and got his gear back in place. “Ready. At the end of this journey, the truth awaits. I’ll be ready to face whatever that truth is, without fail.”

    “Heh, you say that now. They say that ignorance is bliss,” Brynn laughed at Jereidon. “All set then, it’s only a short walk.” Brynn walked out the door and headed to the lower class part of town. He was prepared for the welcome that he normally got when delivering rations; people begging to be healed or cured, others seeing his armor and thinking he must be rich, begging for hand outs, street urchins with grabby hands...

    “Oh yeah, mind your purses. Even the innocent down here are not so innocent,” he called out to Jereidon and Katela.

    “I have to be prepared for anything, and I’ll make sure to watch my coin purse. I’ll keep Neria close by it, I’m sure that’ll be a good enough deterrent,” Jereidon replied as he shifted the cage to his other hand, and kept it close to his side. He felt happy that he had reliable allies, even if there was just two of them, it was a start.

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