It had been five straight nights of traveling nonstop. The group had rested from dawn to dusk, avoiding the road while they rested as best they could, and pushed on through the night. The moon shone brightly as it worked its way toward its full glory, and Stoyan could not help thinking that that had been a sign from the gods. “They want us to reach Veth,” he remembered thinking, “They want us to make it to Fareen in time.”
During the journey, they filled the woman named de Geffriel in on what had happened during the last thirty-five years. None of them could remember life without the war, or even when Elves weren’t reviled and hated. They told her of the fallen towers of Rystavansti and Wintral and the destroyed land surrounding Kalien. Though they admitted they had never seen any of the events when she questioned them, it was accepted as common knowledge among everyone.
They even continued to verify the fact by exchanging coins. de Geffriel’s coins were marked with the Council Head at the time, Cecil Vanderhul, a man, she claimed, encouraged the relationships between races, believing it was for the betterment of Delagraad. Stoyan exchanged with her his own coin, marked with the image of Zolostran, the Prism Mage, the man who brought about the end of the Reckoning and the reign of the Blood King with his life. They explained that Zolostran was a hero of all people, and some secretly believed that he might have even been a god saving his children from destruction.
The stories and exchanges continued across the plains and into the city of Fareen, which they reached on the sixth day of the fifth month. Exhausted, but eager to find Veth, Alaiya and Stoyan pushed on, much to the dismay of de Geffriel and Elias. Eventually they found themselves outside the clinic where they had left Veth. Stoyan could only hope it was not too late.
Stoyan knocked with three sharp raps on the door. Soon, he heard the clamor of feet behind the door and he was greeted by a cheery familiar face as it swung open.
“Oh, hello there! I wasn’t expecting you today. What a pleasant surprise! Ugh, you smell horrible. And look even worse. Oh, who are your friends? Hello, my name’s Ginly. Ginly Ironfoot. Clerical Apprentice!” The spunky young Dwarf thrust out he hand to Elias and de Geffriel, who shook it hesitantly. “Please, come in, come in, Stoyan. Hey, where are your friends? The big guy and the little funny man? Are they not feeling well yet?”
Stoyan pulled up at the inquiry, confused. “What do you mean? Isn’t Veth here?”
“Huh? Hmmm…Perhaps you should speak to Beatrice. Or Captain Jae. They’re both here having breakfast.” Ginly ushered them in and closed the door behind them. Directing them to the main quarters, she knocked politely on the door and waited for Beatrice to answer. “It’s Ginly, Cleric Beatrice. Ummm…Some people are here to see you.”
“Come in, Ginly,” came a voice from behind the door.
Ginly opened it and ushered the group inside. The room was simple enough, a wall covered with a map of Fareen showing various help centers and emergency routes, a large table in the middle, and a desk off to one side. Behind the desk was a bright golden symbol of Pelor.
At the table sat two familiar faces, Cleric Beatrice Tabenik and the Captain of the Guard, Jae Kalvier. Between them on the table were some fruits and a pitcher of water, as well as several stacks of paper. Jae was the first to speak.
“What in the Nine Hells are you doing here?” His astonishment was unquestionable. “Shouldn’t you be in Berathion with Veth?”
“That’s why we’re here,” replied Stoyan. “We came back as fast as we could to give the vernalbloom to Veth. Where is he?”
“Vernalbloom? We still have some? I thought it was destroyed…” Beatrice’s thoughts pulled her away. “Why would the High Priest keep that from us?”
“Who cares!” demanded Stoyan. “Where’s Veth? Why isn’t he here?”
The two sat, looking confused. Beatrice’s face looked especially concerned. Finally, Jae spoke. “We sent him to Berathion by caravan about a week ago. We received word from Orcen Valingard, the High Priest’s Assistant, to have Veth transported to Berathion. He said it would be faster to administer the remedy if he were closer to the main temple. With their resources in Berathion it only made sense.”
“What? Why wouldn’t he tell us? When exactly did you receive this message?” It took all of Stoyan’s willpower to remain in that room, calmly, and not run straight for Berathion.
Jae thought for a moment. “Pretty sure we got it on the twenty-eighth. Evening of. Yeah, that’s about right. We sent him out the next morning in a caravan carriage. Light guard, so not to draw too much attention, but more than a normal merchant. Sent a cleric along too, Sam McNairn, if I remember.” He fussed over some papers before him until pulling one up. “Yup, Sam McNairn and four guards. Sent out on the morning of the twenty-ninth at daybreak.”
Stoyan thought for a minute, doing some math in his head. Alaiya pulled him down and whispered something in his ear, which helped his thinking. “We left Berathion for the Tomb of Pelor that same morning. We…we should have been back that day or the next…” Stoyan suddenly looked deflated. “It makes perfect sense that Orcen would do that for us. Why didn’t I think of that?”
“But, then why didn’t you return to Berathion? Why did you come here? Surely Orcen sent word to you at the tomb?” Beatrice was growing curious as the story unfolded. Clearly something was working in her mind.
“We would have, but we…ran into problems. We didn’t leave the tomb the same way we came in. But that doesn’t matter, I have to get to Veth. How come we didn’t see him on the road?”
“We didn’t send a marked carriage, and we kept the guards inside so not to draw attention. There is a chance you passed them, but if you had no idea you were looking for them, I’m not surprised you didn’t notice them.”
Stoyan had to begrudgingly admit Jae’s logic worked. His frustration was getting the better of him though. “I need to go. If I hurry, I might be able to reach Berathion by the twelfth. I can still save Veth. Who’s coming with me?” He turned to his friends and suddenly realized that everyone had been pushed to their max racing to Fareen every night.
“Stoyan, my boy, you all look…well, like shit; like you got thrown from your first horse, then kicked in the face – twice. Don’t know why you need to get to him by the twelfth, but you should rest a bit, regardless. I’ll have some horses readied for you and you can be off with the cool afternoon. With fresh steeds, you should be able to make it to Berathion by the evening of the tenth.”
The exhaustion had seemed to finally catch up to Stoyan at the relief of Jae’s aid. “Thank you, Captain. I…We will gladly take you up on your offer. We’ll leave this afternoon. I don’t know how I can repay you, but I will.”
Jae shook his hand, his leather glove shaking awkwardly between his middle finger and the edge of his hand. “Don’t worry about it. It’s a shame you didn’t get the message. Seems only right to rectify the problem as best I can. Veth is a good man, and if you can help him, well, I’ll do what I can. Barracks are open if you all need a place to rest. See you in a few hours.”
Stoyan and the others nodded, thanked them again, and left. Exhaustion had infiltrated their bodies and they slugged along out of the clinic. Ginly led them to the exit, telling them to please come back any time, and bide them farewell. The group then headed north through Fareen to the barracks to get some well deserved sleep. Their journey would begin again in a few hours.