Darris squinted painfully at the sun. He shook his head ruefully at how high in the sky it was, then instantly regretted the sudden movement. An evening of story-telling at the inn was taking its toll on both his body and his punctuality. Lady Wren had been quite clear that he was to be at the Parsonage shortly after breakfast, but according to Lady Amaryllis, he had already missed both breakfast and mid-morn tea by the time he had made his way downstairs.
Moving as quickly as his pounding head allowed, Darris hurried to the well-tended garden in back of the Parsonage.
Wren took one quick look at him and grunted. “I see Sven and his crew are being a bad influence as usual. You can start weeding around the corn.”
They worked in silence for a while, giving Darris time to mull over everything he had heard in the common room of the inn. As if reading his mind, Wren glanced over at him and asked “So how far into the story did they get last night? The short of it please – I’ve heard Sven’s Bard tell it often enough.”
Darris cleared his throat. It was hot and dry out here in the garden, approaching high-sun, and he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink in his haste to get here. He quickly recounted their trip to the Heteronomy of Virduk, their adoption into the Highhill Clan, and the rescue of Reshni Verdu from the vampires. How the information gathered there lead them to the Calastian Battle Mage, Kuliom Ganthes, who was in possession of the sword Believers Truth.
At this point Wren chuckled, “I take it they left out the part about us losing the one sword we had on that trip? Figures – it wasn’t one of our finest moments. We lost it to a big grasshopper-demon in service the Belsameth.” She waived-off his pleas for details and asked him to continue.
“The Battle-Mage required a favor in exchange for Believers Truth. The bard was remarkably short on details there as well.” Darris looked expectantly at Wren, hoping that she would tell him more, but she remained busy at her work, seemingly unaware of his interest. He sighed and continued, “You were apparently successful, and traveled to Ankila to retrieve the sword from the Temple of Hedrada, getting embroiled in politics with both the High Minister Arnas Riven and the Vigils of Vesh. And that is where he left off.”
At any rate, that was all Darris remembered but he wasn’t going to admit as much.
Wren stood up and stretched “Time for a break before we get started on the next patch.”
Darris eyed an evil looking plant that covered a small patch of ground surrounded by a barren stretch of stone & dirt. It was a vine that crawled over itself reminding Darris of a pile of snake; leaves writhing in a gentle breeze made it seem almost alive. He shuddered as Wren returned with a small pewter pitcher and two mismatched cups.
“I hope you like Frostberry Tea. It is particularly refreshing on warm days like today.” Wren passed him a cup filled to the brim.
Darris grimaced to himself. Frostberry tea was delicious when served cold, but weak and acidic when warm. He politely placed it to his lips, planning to take but the barest of sips, when he felt a surprising chill rise from the surface. He eyed Wren over the edge of the cup as he gratefully drank the refreshing draught.
“It was about that time that I picked up this delightful little pitcher,” said Wren as if reading his thoughts. “It may seem frivolous to have a pitcher that does nothing but cool its contents, but it has been a comfort to me for many, many years, and I had the money to spend.
When we returned to the Vault from Ankila, there was message waiting that our mining venture in the Valley had begun to prosper, and our first payment awaited us at the Asuras House in Catlaigh.
It’s a wild land between the Vault and Catlaigh – even more so back then – so we traveled with a caravan for safety in numbers. I remember that the caravan master’s name was Jinn Ochaki. It’s funny that I can remember his name after all these years, but not what I ate for lunch yesterday.” Wren sighed and gazed off in the distance, seemingly lost in thought.
Darris coughed politely and Wren was jerked back to the present.
“I don’t know how that man could make that run with any regularity. We were attacked by Umber hulks on the way there and hunted down a marauding band of Mormo lions on the way back. Dangerous business to be in.” Wren shook her head.
“If you’ve never been to Catlaigh, you should visit, if for nothing else than to attend a morning service at the Madriel temple. One of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. They actually had peacocks roaming the gardens. Just beautiful.” She laughed, “And speaking of beautiful, ask Sven about Tuva, his “old friend” in Catlaigh.
While there, we met a man in the employ of Asuras by the name of Tyrad Churk. He helped us manage our business there and was kind enough to show us around town. It was in the shops there that I found this little beauty.” Wren held up the pitcher admiringly.
Darris and Wren both jumped as Amaryllis suddenly popped up from behind a Mulberry bush. She had a sly, knowing look on her face as she said “He spent more time showing some of us around than others.”
If Darris didn’t know any better, he would have said that Wren was blushing, but she brushed off the comment with a quick “Apparently break time is over since Amaryllis was kind enough to stop by to help.”
“Oh, no. I’m not helping you with your nasty Serpent Weed. Darris and I have…business…back at the inn. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Unless of course, you’d rather stay, Darris?”
He took one shuddering looked at the sinuous vine and jumped up from his seat.
“Yes, yes…business…I’d quite forgot. Thank you so much for reminding me.”
He and Amyrillis left Wren chuckling to herself as they headed back to the inn.