Author: ElfWarrior PM
Two Ranger/Bards--Verin and Kyrdan--are going to Candlekeep to research a magic dagger that is more than it appears to be, and is after their souls. Better than it sounds. Drizzt & Co. or Arilyn & Danilo might make a cameo. REVIEW!!!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,004 - Reviews: 6 - Updated: 05-18-02 - Published: 04-25-02 - id: 741109
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't know who it belongs to, but the Forgotten Realms world isn't mine. But all the characters in chapter 1 are mine. So far, no Drizzt Do'Urden or Catti-brie Something (she must have SOME kind of last name) or Arilyn Moonblade or Danilo Thann or any of those other cool people.
A three-masted schooner sailed leisurely into Waterdeep. The sloppily painted name on her hull proclaimed her the Sea Bird, a well-known cargo ship. Her crew began to toss ropes to the dock attendants, securing the schooner in her position. Before wood had touched wood, two figures leapt agilely from the prow to the pier, too impatient to wait. With good-natured waves and farewells called over their shoulders, the pair raced towards the town. One of the two didn't quite have his land legs back yet, and almost slipped over the edge. His companion grabbed his trailing cloak and heaved him back on track, laughing at his slip. They continued without the slightest pause, tugging their hoods over their heads to guard against the rain that was beginning to fall from the gray sky.
The Sea Bird's captain, Dahillin Fashil, looked after them and shook his head. "Only rangers," he muttered. "Only rangers."
His first mate lifted her head at his voice. "I thought you wanted to be rid of them," she said wryly. "Couldn't wait. They kept the crew distracted with the music, the weapons tricks, and the stories. Crazy ranger passengers. And now they hop off before we've even docked, and you miss them?"
"I never said that!" Dahillin snapped. "Just wished they'd kept their promise of buying me dinner tonight."
The first mate laughed. "They had to get to Candlekeep, and fast. Business that couldn't wait. You know how rangers are about things like that. Don't let it get to you, Dahillin." She turned her attention back to the crew. "Rasal, you stupid sandswallower, watch where you're throwing those things!"
Down the docks, just entering the city, Verin Risingstar grabbed her companion's shoulder once again to prevent him from slipping. "Gods, Kyrdan, you'd think you'd never sailed before!"
Kyrdan—Kyrdanar Lasrohir Danisar Quickblade—raised his eyebrows. "I haven't. Do we have to run?"
"This whole Candlekeep-by-sunset idea was your own. Don't blame me."
He sighed. "I didn't mean it literally! We don't have to find another ship tonight! I'm in no hurry. Can we stop running?"
"After all that time on board, we can both use the exercise," Verin retorted sassily.
"True. But I'm not trying to find passage for tomorrow."
"Inns go quick around here."
Kyrdan winced and put on an extra burst of speed. "Do you have any in mind?"
"I know a few who could use a minstrel."
He groaned. "The minstrel act again?"
"You got a better idea?"
Luck was with the rangers that night, however. As they rounded a corner, they came to a steadily filling inn with a battered signboard dangling above the door bearing a crude caricature of an extremely drunk-looking dwarf holding his tankard high. Kyrdan came to a hasty stop beside Verin. "The Drunken Dwarf?"
She nodded. "It's warm and out of the elements." Rain was pouring from the sky now. "And they have the best meat pie I've ever tasted. Maybe the innkeeper remembers me. I was a frequent patron here—"
"Ten years ago when you were a horseman's daughter learning the trade," the other ranger added skeptically. "You looked very different at seventeen, believe me."
Verin sniffed. "You didn't know me until I was twenty."
"And you've changed enough since then. Well, let's go. Do we have to pull the stupid minstrel act, or can we just pull the minstrel act?"
"Neither. Just be yourself."
"Ranger-bards? That's new."
"Not to me. Why are we wasting time talking? I'm soaked. Let's go."
The two adventurers slipped into the inn, pulling off their sodden cloaks. The innkeeper, a balding, middle-aged man in a leather apron, looked up. He frowned, not completely liking what he saw, apparently.
Kyrdan could hardly blame him. Both he and Verin probably looked very disreputable right now. He was a tall, lanky man in his late twenties with shoulder-length reddish hair, friendly hazel eyes, darkly tanned skin, and a charming, ready smile. A sword in a worn scabbard was strapped to his side, and the end of a flute stuck out from the satchel-like bag he slid over his head, along with his gittern case, strapped to his back. His clothes were plain and travelworn; even more so than his companion's. He was, at heart, a nice person, patient and fiercely loyal. But as kind as he was, he had qualms at all about killing those he felt deserved it—he didn't stop at stabbing true villains in the back as they slept. But he didn't have to do that often. Usually, he was just Kyrdan Quickblade, a ranger who dabbled in music, avoided trouble, and was always trying to find a reason to laugh.
Verin looked very different. She was of average height, deceptively delicate, slender, and pretty, with long black hair that she wore in a braid. Her eyes were large and brown, and her skin was pale. She wore no sword, but strapped across her back was a contraption that she called a glaive: six-and-a-half feet long in total, the bottom foot shod in iron, the next four feet of strong, magically hardened wood, and the top eighteen inches, a steel blade. She usually carried the glaive in her hand, as others would a staff, but on board the Sea Bird, she'd had no use for it. Two long-knives hung from her belt, and Kyrdan knew she wore knives in both her boots and in her sleeves, hidden by her aging leather gauntlets. She wasn't nearly as patient as he, and far more brutal when push came to shove, though she avoided killing whenever possible. But once she decided it was necessary, she never rested until whoever she was after was very, very dead. She had a mordant wit, and it seemed to Kyrdan that she only laughed at his jokes, and no one else's.
He had no problems whatsoever with that.
Verin smiled at the innkeeper. In Kyrdan's opinion, Verin had a stunning lovely smile that should have turned everyone's knees to water instead of just his. "Hanar. It's been a long time."
Hanar squinted at her, then said incredulously, "Verin? Verin Raitenar?"
"Got it in one," she replied cheerily. "But now I'm Verin Risingstar. Told you he'd remember me, Kyr."
Hanar glanced at Kyrdan. "Who's this?"
"My husband Kyrdan Quickblade."
"Husband?" The innkeeper raised his eyebrows. "Good catch, lad. Thought she'd never settle down."
"Don't talk about me as if I'm not here," Verin snapped. "We're here for business. What do you pay the usual itinerant songsters who come here begging for performance time? That's what I've been reduced to."
"The usual itinerants get free bed, board, and food. I get a small percentage of the profits. But for you, old friend, free bed, board, and food, no extra charge." Hanar smiled. "I still make meat pies."
Verin turned a triumphant grin to her husband. "I told you he'd remember me!"
Kyrdan smiled back. "So you did. Where do we sit?"
Hanar pointed to a place directly in front of the fire. Three chairs were set at an angle facing the room. "All yours. Don't play anything too dismal unless they ask for it—bad for business."
Verin nodded. "Come on, Kyr."
The rangers walked smoothly across the room and situated themselves in the chairs. Kyrdan began tuning the gittern, causing heads to turn across the room. Verin unstrapped the sling-like "rigging" (as Kyrdan jokingly called it) that bound the glaive to her back. She shoved the rigging into her satchel-pack and set the glaive at her side before pulling out a small bag for tips. "How about On the Farthest Star?" she suggested. "This crowd likes romances."
Kyrdan shrugged. "Fine by me. Here's the flute."
"Thank you." Verin took the offered instrument and began to play the introduction.
True to her word, the crowd did like the song, cheering and requesting more. They played eight more songs before they broke for dinner. The inn had filled up nicely. Hanar and his employees all had their hands full, but were making a tidy profit.
Somehow, the innkeeper managed to find a moment to check in on them as they wolfed down his meat pie—Verin had been right. It was very good. "Everything fine?" Two heads bobbed enthusiastically. "Good. What brings you back to Waterdeep, Verin? How've things been? I'm guessing you've picked up some great stories."
"You don't guess wrong." Verin wiped her mouth. "After I left here, I went up towards Luskan. I don't know why. I just needed somewhere to go. I was making for Silverymoon eventually. I was hoping something mystical and magical would befall me, changing my life forever."
"That didn't come for a few more years," Kyrdan interjected, smiling cheekily.
Verin chuckled. "But I'm not there yet. In Luskan, I met Tharentriel Ren'talomar. Actually, she saved my life. I got attacked in an alley, and I was unarmed. Things would have gone very badly if she hadn't shown up. But she did."
"Forgive my ignorance," Hanar interrupted, taking a seat next to them, "but who's Thar-whatsit Ren-something?"
"Tharentriel Ren'talomar. You'll know her better as the Cat—the etriel ranger."
Hanar's jaw dropped. "You met the Cat?"
"She taught me."
Hanar's shock silenced him for a moment. The Cat! One of the most famous rangers around, a reputedly gorgeous moon elf. She was the subject of at least fifty ballads, and the number was growing. "What's etriel mean?" he finally managed to stutter.
"It's an elven word, a respectful term for a female. An elven female, that is. So Tharentriel taught me everything, then sent me off into the world, far better prepared. I went back to my original destination and headed for Silverymoon, hoping for adventure. And it found me, sure enough. I passed through Mirabar without incident, but was attacked by goblins on the road soon after. I beat them, but I was badly wounded and passed out from loss of blood soon after that. Luckily, a certain bardic ranger happened to find me. Once I recovered, we headed for Silverymoon—he was going there too. And there, not only did we fall for each other like moonstruck idiots—"
"We were moonstruck idiots," Kyrdan put in, speaking around a mouthful of food.
"I won't argue with that. Anyway, lots of troublesome things happened, and we helped clear up a murder, then got married. And we started traveling, and adventuring, and doing what rangers do."
"What do we do?"
"Shh!" Verin hissed. "The general public isn't supposed to know we haven't killed an orc for the last year or done anything particularly outstanding!"
"Hey, what about those songs about us?"
"There are songs about you?" Hanar seemed very impressed.
"Only two," Verin added modestly. "One's absolutely horrendous and blown out of proportion. And no, we're not singing either of them. So now, we're heading for Candlekeep, because it was far away from where we were, and because Kyrdan wants to research a magic dagger he won. I say he got cheated, but he insists it'll do something."
"See what I mean? If you're done eating, Kyr, we should keep playing. They're asking for us." She grinned. "We must be good."
The ranger-bards played late into the night, when they finally pled weariness and retired to their room upstairs. Kyrdan began repacking their instruments while Verin stared in stunned fascination across the room. He looked up. "What?" His eyes followed her gaze. "What is it?"
"A bed. It's a bed. I haven't even seen a bed for I-don't-know how long. All those hammocks at sea and now—it's a bed," she repeated, sounding almost awestruck at the sight of the simple piece of furniture.
Kyrdan rolled his eyes. "Yes, my dear, it is a bed. You have officially seen a bed again. You will actually get some sleep tonight. At least, I think you will."
"I'm not a moonstruck idiot anymore, Kyrdan-love. Much as you'd like to believe it, I don't stay up all night thinking about you anymore."
Verin considered this. "No," she decided.