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.
10. Alone in the mist
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
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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