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Legends of Taltos:Nefsokar

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The young priest looked at Salma and tilted his head slightly as if in deep thought. After a long moment he looked back at the sewer grate as if trying to make a decision, trying to weigh the risks. Whatever that creature was had managed to influence a large group of people, and yet those people had been unaware they were being manipulated. Yet, two trained warriors along with the power of Osiris might be able to stand a better chance. After thinking about Hennet came to decision.

 

“Where is the young haughty mage? Perhaps we would be better off having his magics down there to help us. There is something about those sewers that disturbs me.”

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Salma was personally inclined to agree. The sort of magic that she had seen on the ship being used against the sea-creatures was very powerful, and would be a great help, even if it meant having to swallow even more humble-pie herself.

 

"I never really got to know him myself. He seemed not to want to get to know me either. I ought not judge so early though. Being on such a ship can make some people unsociable, or in some instances, irritable.". Salma continued speaking, now trying not to make unnecessary eye-contact with Helt, whom she had made such a horrible first impression upon.

 

"LIke I said, I don't know the sorcerer, but I know somebody who does, if only in a roundabout way. Masika the dancing-girl took quite a liking to that bird of his. I would think a sorcerer's animal-friend would not socialise with anybody that their master would not socialise with. Maybe she could tell us his whereabouts... if only we knew her whereabouts."

 

Salma winked at Hennet. "Would you care to escort a lady to a few ale-houses to see their dancing-girls?"

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Previously, back at the Cafe

 

Gahiji nods his approval to Masika and takes off from the windowsill of the stable in which he has been preening in the sun. He soars off in the direction of the of the southern city gates then circles back to land upon Masika's shoulder.

 

Masika smiles as Gahiji gently lands upon her shoulder. She begins her journey, heading south, assuming that Gahiji will let her know if her course needs to change.

 

Gahiji stays on her shoulder for the most part, occasionally, flying off to direct her on her journey. The further they travel on their journey, the more agitated the great bird seems to become, making worried noises in his throat and shuffling about more and more on Masika's shoulder.

 

After traveling several miles outside of the city walls, the ground becomes flat and marshy. Masika can't see anything in sight besides the flat featureless terrain; a sparse tree or shrub every now and again, the only thing to break up the monotony.

 

"What was Asim doing out here?" she asks herself mainly though she looks at Gahiji as she speaks. The hawk just shakes his head and fidgets some more then takes off once again to point out the direction.

 

Her horse falters slightly every now and then as the soft ground sinks under his hooves. Under Masika's insistent urging, the beast nervously continues on though, obviously not trusting her judgment.

 

"Gahiji, are you sure we're going the right...waaaa..." she starts to ask then cuts herself short. "Oh my! He's over there." Seeing a crumpled body lying in an unnatural position to her right, she instantly recognizes the battered young sorcerer from Gahiji's vision. The hawk lands next to the body on the ground, nuzzling its soft, feathered head against Asim's lifeless hand.

 

Masika leaps off her horse and quickly ties the reins to a nearby tree branch before approaching the body. "Asim?" she asks softly, then grimaces as she sees the many bloody wounds covering his body; some of which look to be severe burns causing his robes to appear melted to his own skin.

 

Kneeling down she cradles his limp head in her hands as she checks for a pulse. Fighting back tears, the young girl gives Gahiji a weak smile. "He has a pulse, though a weak one. And his breath is very shallow."

 

Masika looks back down at the young sorcerer with sympathy. "Oh Asim, what happened to you?" She places her hand gently over his heart. Closing her eyes in concentration, she sings one peaceful, soothing note of healing.

 

The warmth transfers through her hand and into Asim's limp body. It appears to do very little to warm the chill of death that has set itself upon him but his breathing does deepen slightly and a slight hint of pink tints the very centers of his cheeks. After a few seconds more, his eyelids flutter open and a thin weak smile comes to Asim's lips as he looks up at the young girl and Gahiji who have come to save him. This small sign appears to be all that he can manage though, and he passes swiftly back into unconsciousness. His breathing remains more regular

though, and his pulse feels much stronger.

 

Letting out a small sigh of relief, Masika allows her nerves to unwind just the tiniest bit. "A little healing is better than nothing, but his going to need more than I can give!" Masika looks around trying to figure out how she's going to get Asim back to the city.

 

Getting an idea, she slowly drags his body as gently as she can to her horse, tied to the tree. She props Asim's unconscious form against the tree trunk then unties the hors and leads him into a position near Asim. She works for a while trying to get the horse to kneel. Finally succeeding, she is able to drape Asim's body over the saddle and secure him with a bit of rope she found in the saddle pack. She coaxes the untrusting horse up, mounts and heads back to town.

 

"We must make haste back to the city, Gahiji! Asim is going to need a stronger healer than I," she says, biting her lower lip in silent thought.

 

The hawk seems to nod in agreement as he lands on her shoulder once more. Just then Masika gets a brief image of a familar face. One she saw on the ship. "Yes! He was a priest! Surely he can help us! Lets see," she says pause a moment of thought. "He name was Hairnet...no no that wasn't it...Henry? No, wait, I know! It was Hennet!" She smiles brightly at Gahiji. "Come! Let us find this priest Hennet!"

 

With that she increases the horse's pace back toward the city.

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“Where is the young haughty mage?  Perhaps we would be better off having his magics down there to help us.  There is something about those sewers that disturbs me.”

"Are you certain that we really need that one? He seemed more trouble than he was worth on the ship, and I'm not so sure about his power." There is much disdain in Helt's voice as he speaks of the spellcaster. "But you probably have more knowledge of such things than me. I guess it wouldn't hurt to go find him, but I would rather have that scarred archer, Ramses, along. He seems much more useful in a fight."

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Smiling at the large warrior but not as brightly at he smiles at himself; Hennet remembers the lessons he learned of the northern tribes. Distrustful of magic in any form save but that of a shaman, they grow up with unbelievable resistances to the magic of mages. Where others will fall to the ball of flame hurled at them, these strong men will shrug it off and continue charging. Hennet always believed that to be an exaggeration, although given the mans size and girth it might be quite possible for him to shrug off some forms of minor magic, but that would be from physical prowess and not from some mystical quality.

 

“I would tend to agree with you Helt on most days. He did seem a bit self absorbed but nonetheless he is a magi and something disturbs me about this creature. Can you not feel the waves of anger coming from the sewer? It seems alive, like it is burrowing into our skin and attempting to make a home inside of us. Whatever is down there is something the likes of which I have not yet encountered in my life, nor have I heard of such of thing before.” The priest seems to drift away to a pensive state until the warrior clears his throat uncomfortably. “You are correct about the archer. Though I hope he has more skills to use in such a tight environment.” He drifts off once again.

 

"Like I said, I don't know the sorcerer, but I know somebody who does, if only in a roundabout way. Masika the dancing-girl took quite a liking to that bird of his. I would think a sorcerer's animal-friend would not socialize with anybody that their master would not socialize with. Maybe she could tell us his whereabouts... if only we knew her whereabouts." Salma says to the two men filling in the silence.

 

Salma winked at Hennet. "Would you care to escort a lady to a few ale-houses to see their dancing-girls?"

 

“Hmmm, perhaps this is a good idea. Helt seek out the archer, he should still be near the ship I think, and he did not seem too interested in the city itself. Salma and I will seek out this dancing girl. Perhaps she could lead us to where the wizard is housing himself. We will meet up back at the Unicorn’s Crown in the afternoon. From there we will seek out all the information we can on this thing in case anyone has seen it before and can enlighten us.” He looks over at Salma who half expected him to be quite embarrassed at the dancing girls comment and simply offers his arm to her. There is something about the priest’s eyes, a quiet wisdom that is tinged with curiosity. Salma can see right away that this young man is very different than any of the other priests she has met in her life. “Come now my lady, this creature will not wait for us and we can not afford to waste any more time.”

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Salma's attempt to embarass Hennett had failed completely, and now it was she who was blushing. Most members of the clergy she had ever had any dealings with seemed absolutely intimidated by the very world they were called to enlighten, and would never agree to go on a tavern-crawl in search of a dancing-girl.

 

"Lady?" Salma's cheeks reddened. "I'm no lady. I work for a living. But if you would care to have me in your company anyway, I would be more than glad to go along with you. I recall passing by a few likely ale-houses and inns that had entertainment..." She placed special emphasis on the word "entertainment", as if to say to the Priest that this was no task for schoolboys. "I do recall passing the Unicorn's Crown earlier. It seemed to me to be one of the town's better taverns. I hope Masika would find work in a place like that, rather than places such as The Tigress' Den or the Red Velvet Club."

 

She smiled, took Hennet's arm and navigated him toward the waterfront street where a dancer would be most likely to find employment.

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Iman takes the group away from the attack on the would-be-horse thieves, the path now lies to the east following one of the escarpments. Setting a brisk pace, for the thought of fighting orc raisers sets he blood afire with anticipation. Even Lissar seems to pick up on her mistresses excitement and bounds along side. But even with her mind filled with thoughts of combat, she remains alert. An hour or so into the journey she stops short and signals the rest to do so. Turning her mount out towards the desert she gallops off for some distance before stopping. Standing high in her stirrups she scans the desert intently, then turning quickly she scans the escarpment itself. Then spurring her horse back to the others, she turns sharply and calls out . “Sand storm! Follow me!” And with that sets a break neck pace down the escarpment.

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Every alert, Koryx reacts quickly to Iman's call. "Quick, that way!" However, he pauses to make sure he remains at the rear of the party as they gallop after the ranger.

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As Masika enters the city, she has but one thought on her mind; to find the priest that might be able to help her arcane friend. “Gahiji, we must find Hennet but I haven’t a clue where to start! I don’t even remember what church from which he serves! Do you think you could scout around over head? Perhaps you can find him quicker that way.”

 

The hawk flies off, seeming to understand her plan. Masika makes her way through the crowds of people toward the church houses. She stops from time to time to ask those of bardic nature if they might have seen a priest matching Hennet’s description, however no lead surfaces.

 

Feeling frustrated and tired after her long searching, Masika turns her horse back toward the Olive Café.

 

Perhaps there will someone there that can help me, she thinks.

 

As she draws closer, she notices Gahiji flying toward her. “What news, Gahiji? Did you find him?”

 

The hawk circles twice around Masika then flies in the direction she was heading, toward the waterfront street.

 

“He’s here? In this part of town? I never would have thought to look here…” her voice fades off as she begins to look through the sea of unfamiliar faces.

 

They pass such places as the The Tigress' Den, the Red Velvet Club and the Olive Café. Up ahead she can barely make out another tavern sign with a picture of a crowned unicorn. The sea of unfamiliar faces continues until she sees a woman she remembers walking toward the tavern.

 

“Hey, that’s Salma! But whose arm does he have? Oh what luck! It’s the priest!”

 

With that she quickens the pace of her horse to catch up with them as Gahiji returns to his place on her shoulder.

 

“Hello there! Salma, Hennet! I need your help; well I don’t need your help per say,” she says, talking faster as she continues. “But Asim heresuredoes. Yousee Ifindhim likethisonthewayoutoftown. Ididn’t knowwhereelse totakehim. Ihealedhim asmuchasIcould butIthinkhe’sdyingHennetcanyouhelphim?” she pauses to catch her breath as she looks at the priest expecting him to answer.

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Salma, who had been looking over the sorcerer in his present condition, waited to catch a pause in Masika's rushed query.

 

"Now slow down and start from the beginning. Where did you find him? Did you see anybody who may have done this to him? Can he speak or tell us any of what happened?"

 

The last thing Salma wanted to do is alarm the girl, but Asim was definately in a bad way, and Masika's concern was justified. Not wanting to worry the girl further, Salma chose not to mention any of what Hennet has just told her, so she nudged Hennet discreetly and spoke toward him, "We were just seeing the sights, nothing more. You did right to come find us." She smiled and faced Masika, hping Hennet took her hint. "Hennet surely can help him. Maybe we should look for a house of healing too. That surely wouldn't do him much more harm."

 

Not wanting to waste too much time, Salma began asking any passers-by where she might find a healer for her very unwell friend.

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Helt wanders in the direction of the docks, with no idea how he will find the warrior, Ramses. He begins to ask everyone he sees if anyone fitting the archer's description has passed by recently. Most are too intimidated by the wild Northman to give more than a shake of the head as an answer. After hours of searching, there is finally a stroke of luck. A dock worker remembers a marine guard of that description passing him by earlier in the day. After a few coins change hands, and Helt threatens to unknot the man's innards, the Norther is pointed in the direction of the Mage Guild tower.

 

Gork's claws, he really is a marine, Helt thinks as he makes his way toward the tower. Dusk begins to fall as he walks. Hawkers begin to fold up their tables, going home to be with their families. Helt begins to miss his own family terribly. He wonders if his sons are giving their mother too much trouble, and if his daughter is walking yet.

 

The barbarian is still thinking about home when he is approached by a not-so-young painted woman.

 

"You looking for some company tonight, wild man?" she asks in a nasally voice.

 

Helt simply glares at her and opens his vest to bear the marriage brand on his chest. She looks at it with incomprehension for a moment and shrugs.

 

"Your loss." she says as she walks away.

 

At that moment, Helt feels movement at his back, coupled with the soft ring of steel clearing a scabbard. He whirls and unslings his two-handed hammer in one motion. Three wiry youths bearing daggers are before him. "We're here for your coin, bud," one of them snarls. "Just hand it over and we won't stick ya."

 

Helt shakes his head and emits a low, rumbling laugh. "Is everyone in this accursed city a thief?" he counters. "Run home to your mothers, lads. I got no time to play."

 

He slings his maul and begins to walk away when the three foolishly charge him. One actually nicks the big warrior's arm before an uppercut sends him flying in a spray of blood and teeth. The would-be mugger lands in a heap on the cobblestones, unconcious.

 

The other two have no better luck. Despite their comrade's fate, they come on in a mad rush. Helt grabs one's wrist as the boy tries a desperate overhand stab, and breaks it in two with a quick twist. The lad's dagger falls harmlessly to the street. The third is stopped short with a knee to the side. Helt feels the bones crack as he follows the blow with a right cross.

 

"You boys should really learn a trade," the Northman says calmly as they lay bleeding in the street. "Your current line of work seems a little out of your league." With one last disgusted look, he turns and continues on his way to the Mage Guild.

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

 

A short while later, Helt finds himself standing in front of an enormous stone structure, black as the night and bristling with the likenesses of strange creatures. a thirty foot wrought iron fence topped with spikes surrounds the complex. the structure might have been intimidating to another man, but Helt simply saw another test sent from He of the Steel Jaw.

 

"Hail! Guard! Is this the tower of the Mage Guild?" he shouts to the mailed forms standing in front of the gate.

 

The majority of them snickered amongst themselves at the primitive's stupidity. Of course it was the Mage Guild. What other group would keep themselves in such a foreboding place? But one does not laugh. Instead, he strides forward and greets Helt in a language tha barbarian hasn't heard in many months.

 

<n"Hail, brother! I am Garreth, of the Blood Boar people! What can I do to assist a child of Gork?"n>

 

For the first time since beginning his journey, Helt fells happiness. The Blood Boars are the Ghost Bear tribe's staunchest allies. Truly Gork is watching over me, he thinks.

 

<n"Well met, Garreth, I am Helt. You could deliver a message to one inside for me. Tell Tetrach Ramses that I wish to speak with him. It is a matter of grave importance to the will of Gork.n>

 

<n"Very well, I will find him. May Almek's tusks glisten with the blood of your enemies."n>

 

<n"And may Gork's claws give you strength in your hour of need."n>

 

The two men clasp forearms in farewell and Garreth enters the gate to deliver the message. Helt stands like a statue, waiting.

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Every alert, Koryx reacts quickly to Iman's call. "Quick, that way!" However, he pauses to make sure he remains at the rear of the party as they gallop after the ranger.

Daoud's head whips around to look for the storm. Seeing the others following Iman, he boots his horse after them, taking the descent much faster than he would normally care to.

 

We must get some shelter before it reaches us! It will flay us alive and then bury us!

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