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The Guardian
10. Alone in the mist

When he returned to Anlaven, the town where he was adopted and where was taught the basics of the life, his foster parents were long dead; human span of life was thrice as short as Marrkes'. The house was occupied by merchants who were polite and kind enough. Nlaminer was still remembered here. But humans were always distrustful to alien races. And the six-feet furry stranger, with inch-sized fangs and growling overtones in his voice couldn't be as welcome as he would like to.

Nlaminer cordially bid them farewell and left for the cemetery.

There he prayed to Naata and other gods and sat for a while. His appearance was quite formidable to prevent outright staring at him.

With heavy heart he ordered a room in the nearest inn and began to think over his plans.

The City of Singara had been deserted four centuries ago. The Humans began to explore it once, when another assault from the dark depths made them to cancel their scouting. It was rumored to hide unthinkable treasure, as all deserted places always are. Nlaminer knew enough of Singara history to assume he could find a treasure there.

The only problem was he wouldn't go alone. Too many hazards lay ahead. Nobody knew very well what could crawl round the nearest corner, so no precaution was unwarranted.

And the cost of the equipment was rather high. He had to earn more money somehow. It was easy. His magic skills, limited as they were, brought him immediate awe and respect, for common people were always thinking of mages as mysterious demonic creatures, able to do anything with a movement of finger. Well, he was good enough to fulfil several simple quests (found lost box with precious gems, cast protection from thieves and wild animals onto cattle-sheds and so on), which gave him both money and reputation. He managed to buy an enchanted silver sword Aimnall (Protector) and gathered a small band of the adventurers; all four of them were humans. They visited the outermost parts of Singara and were lucky to find treasure enough to equip themselves even better.

Nlaminer lived near Singara during all winter, mastering his thief abilities (a good skill in traps removal is never missed), weapon skills (many trainers were eager to fence with him) and ranger arts. He was a supreme hunter and even the snow-covered mountains brought him enough food and skins, which he could treat and sell afterwards. This was life interesting enough for a small town such as Anlaven. But his inner goals were set aside.

After much thinking he decided to explore Singara deeper. His companions were eager to join him; thus he left his native town for the next time. Provided treasure found there were as much as they guessed, he could start his voyage to Dragon Isles, to begin his long quest, to find where he had come from and why. He heard of no other Marrkes in this world. Murrkins distantly resembled his race, but they were more powerful, more cat-like and with weaker mental abilities. They accepted him like a kin and were always friendlier than any other race. But they knew nothing of Marrkes, too.

His theology knowledge was also much in eclipse; he accepted the existence of deities, but paid little respect to them. They were mostly mystical beings to him, faraway and too hard to communicate with. In his opinion, mind was weapon strong enough. Nobody would invoke to deities unless there were no other way. Sometimes he felt he had to pray, but very rarely.

Their expedition failed completely. All four of his companions were torn to pieces by a flock of blood hawks deep underground. Nlaminer could hardly return, too.

But he met Rhissa.

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-- mecenat --

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