The two friends crossed the bridge crossing the chasm that separated Madren Town from the rest of Flaris just as the sun was setting. They stopped and looked around. There had to be at least twenty buildings there, but the only residents were a huge pack of Demians, one of which was literally as big as a house, and a large red scorpion-like creature.
Nrylin searched around for the girl in red. Monrillan looked left, forward, and right.
"Well, I don't see her. She must not have made it. Oh, well, let's go," he said quickly and turned in the direction of the bridge. Nrylin reached out and grabbed him by the scruff of his jacket before he could go an inch.
"Let's look harder," she suggested. "Unless you want to go back alone."
Monrillan grumbled, but followed her into the town.
In the dim twilight, the deserted town took on an eerie atmosphere. Nrylin wouldn't admit it for the life of her, but she really was staring to feel afraid. Well, not exactly afraid – more like uneasy.
Both friends turned. The robed girl had taken down her hood and was beckoning to them from her place beside a pile of crates. Nrylin ran over to meet her, followed closely by Monrillan.
The storyteller sat down on the ground and gestured for them to do the same. Nrylin sat and asked, "So, what is this story that will change our lives?"
"And why did we have to come all the way to Madren Town to hear it?" Monrillan added, sounding clearly annoyed.
The storyteller answered, "The story I will tell you is of two young vagrants, like yourselves. They lived in this very town, years ago, before it was deserted. They were brother and sister, Moonstrike and Nreelia.
"They lived a fine life for adventurers. They battled monsters and explored Flaris. Then one day, a creature from another world came. He kidnapped Nreelia and struck down her brother. They were long gone by the time Moonstrike came to. He swore that he would not rest until his sister was free again and went searching for her. To this day, no one in Madrigal has seen or heard from either of them."
The storyteller sighed and bowed her head. Nrylin and Monrillan stared at her, hardly believing it.
"That's it?" Monrillan said at last. "The end? Huh, some story."
She looked up sharply, eyes sparking. "That is not the end. I tell you this story because it is true. I spoke to Moonstrike myself. I hoped you would help them and provide a good ending."
Nrylin shot to her feet. "I will help them!"
The storyteller smiled. "Thank you. And you?" She turned to Monrillan.
Monrillan squirmed uncomfortably. It was clear that Nrylin was going on this quest whether or not he came along. He sighed and stood up. "We're gonna get slaughtered," he said. "But—"
"You said 'we'! You're coming!" Nrylin exclaimed in delight and hugged him tightly. Monrillan was suddenly perfectly all right with going. The robed storyteller smiled as well. "Very good."
"So, where do we go?" Nrylin asked.
"Well, you are searching for a kidnapped girl and a lost boy. Where do you think?"
They thought over that until Monrillan guessed, "The River of Weeping?"
"Seems as good a place to start as any," The girl replied, standing and lifting her hood over her head. "I must go now. Godspeed."
"Thank you," the vagrants answered as they turned and ran to the bridge. The girl stood still and smiled after them.