Authors note for update: I have taken it under advisement to add what my mind sees my characters description as. This chapter now includes that addition.

I appreciate all the views and the comments. I hope I continue to get better at telling these stories and that everyone enjoys them.

Chapter 1

Sarid Batima leaned over and lit another candle at the altar. She promptly pulled a dice with 6 sides from a pouch at her waist and rolled it onto the altar. This dice had symbols on each side each signifying a different aspect that the cleric could interpret and make prophecy. Sarid was still learning what each meant to her but this was an easy read. The symbol of two coins, one heads and one tails, shown when the dice stopped rolling. A fortunate day was coming.

Sarid found her dreams coming true in the halls of Tymora's temple. The land of Calisham does not often take kindly to strong women with minds of their own. They seem to end as servants and slaves, but Sarid's father wanted more and fostered an atmosphere of intellect and free will. Sarid thought how much she looked like her father. She was almost six feet tall and had dark skin and dark brown eyes. She stopped and looked at the mirror next to the altar. Her hair was pulled back in tight braids that ended above her her neck. Sarid touched her chin with her fingers. It was the only feature her father said belonged to her mother. She longed to see them both again. It was her father's insistence she learn and through her studies she felt the draw of Tymora and read all her father could collect. Joining the local temple was an easy choice when she became 18 some three months ago.

This was still Calisham though and there were a couple of men here in the temple who still saw her as a servant of their own needs rather than Tymora. Cleaning this, filling that, making meals, laundering clothes and the list went on but what mattered to Sarid was Tymora. Service to the Lady Luck is what is important. Sarid's prayers and studies had granted her Tymora's blessing and she could feel her power.

"Sar" Dramin barked her name out from down the hall. Sarid rolled her eyes. The old man, Dramin did not call her by proper name and the shortening of her name he used seemed to becoming her prevalent moniker by the others around the temple. The others thought it charming but Dramin said it to be disrespectful to her. She stopped trying to explain it to Dramin but the others she would correct until they understood.

Sarid picked up the dice sliding it into the leather pocket inside her flowing robes. Striding down the hallway as Dramin spat her name out again, she pulled back at the braids of her hair. As she came into the main hall she saw Dramin standing with three burly men. Adventurers, Sarid thought. She picked up her steps and strode forward to stand next to Dramin.

"This girl will accompany you, if you can provide the tithe." Dramin turned and pointed to the lockbox near the door. "Do try and not let her die." Dramin made a noise under his breath and walked away.

"My name is Akara." The man was in cheap leather armor. The leather was mismatched in color and covered his legs, chest and forearms. Sarid thought Akara was a man accustomed to working outside. The places his skin showed were touched by the sun. She could not see under his armor but she could guess he was well muscled. Akara's brown hair was cut close to his head which was not the usual style for a man from Calisham. He had a long sleeve shirt on under the chest piece. It looked as if it had once been white but now was stained with brown. In a scabbard at his side was a short sword. He pointed to his left. "This is Rishk and that is Farit." The group looked young to be adventuring, each man no older than twenty maybe.

Rishk, the closest man to Akara, had bent his head at his name. He was a short man wearing light tan cloth pants and a light brown short sleeve shirt. His arms were tight and he carried two daggers, one on each hip. His brown skin could have put his lineage from anywhere. He had black hair pulled back into a knot. He did not look overly strong but his body seemed lithe and quick. Rishk winked at her as she looked him over. Farit was wearing cloth pants as well with a light tunic on his shoulders. Farit seemed out of place for Calisham. He looked almost frail and his skin was so white, Sarid laughed to herself, that he almost glowed. His waist had many pouches and bags hanging from it. Farit's eyes were disconcerting though. Where the other two had looked at her, Farit shifted around. It seemed funny to Sarid that his manner and face made him appear as the long rats she had read about that carried a similar name. Maybe it was his nickname as well.

"The three of us were wandering separately and have found ourselves together in need of food and lodging. We have only a few silvers between us. Finding ourselves in a similar situation, we looked at the job board posted in town and we have taken a job from a local apothecary. He needs the poison glands of giant scorpions, so we are headed into the desert looking for a burrow that is apparently full of them. We get paid for each one we bring in. When we get paid you get paid and not before." Akara said.

Sarid knew the rules and should say no. It is considered insolence to take a healer without a tithe and will often gather no favor from the Lady. The problem is Sarid wanted the experience. There was only so much you could learn from a book or scroll.

"That is not advisable" Farit said from the side. "If Tymora is offended we will have a hard time with the cleric." Sarid's face gave away her shock, but Akara interpreted it wrong.

"Look, Servant of Tymora, to pay money we have to have money. I assure you that your church will get paid when we do." Akara said smugly.

That was not what had bothered Sarid. She was worried they would go without her. She thought quickly and just spoke.

"A first time deal. I can see from your equipment that you are starting out, trying to make a name for yourselves. I am relatively new to this as well and can use the time out. I will complete the tithe for this trip but I expect to be paid back as well as your payment to Tymora." Sarid said. She felt she spoke confidently but inside she was nervous. This was not how the church worked. Too many times wayward adventurers did not come back to pay because they died, were robbed or just stiffed the church. If you did not get money upfront you were likely not to see any of it. It also seemed to speak poorly to the Deity you were looking for blessing from. It was just bad precedent, but Sarid was trying the bluff.

Farit's shifty eyes looked over Sarid and then into the corners as if this was a trap. "I don't like it", he said.

" I say take the deal, Akara. It is better than you thought we would get." Rishk said.

Akara shot Rishk a glance and stared saying be quiet without uttering a word.

"You have a deal, Cleric." Akara said. "When can you be ready to leave?"

"I have everything I need. Lets go." Sarid started walking to the door to leave the temple, but no one else moved.

Farit stuck a thumb over his shoulder toward the tithe box. "Aren't you forgetting your part of this deal?"

In that instant she had forgot she agreed to provide the tithe, she was so excited to be going out. The problem was, Sarid did not have any money either. The few coppers she had were hidden away. She had not thought this through but she needed to make this look right or these men would leave her behind. Grabbing one of the pouches from her belt she pulled the ties and hefted it in her hand. Sarid rolled it softly looking at the bag.

"Should be just right, maybe a few more coins than needed but Tymora will be pleased." She looked between the three men as she set the pouch in the box. If the Lady of Luck blessed those today who take risks Sarid knew she was about to see a windfall. A fortunate day was coming.