Authors Note: Thanks all for the views and comments. I am truly enjoying telling my story.

Chapter 5

Sarid looked around her room. The stuffed cloth mat, that was her bed, lay on the floor against the south wall. The worn wooden desk, a stack of scrolls and books on top, was positioned off the foot of the bed. The desk had a three-legged stool with a soft cushion seat. The cabinet that held her changes of clothes and some of her personal things was positioned next to the door on the north wall. It had two swinging doors on top to hang robes and two drawers beneath. The furniture did not match, but it did not matter to her. This was where she had lived since moving into the temple, a simple room for prayers, study, and rest.

Now there were three men laid out in the tiny room in various poses of sleep and exhaustion. If what the local courtesans told her was true she should have enjoyed waking up with three men in her bedchambers more than she actually did. The ladies would often come to the temple for prayers or healing and would share torrid stories of their own personal adventures with her. Sarid would tend to some of the girls and pray for others but she could not remember one story that ended like this.

The three men splayed out around her smelled of sweat and gore. It took extra hands from those wakened in the temple last night to get Akara, Rishk, and Farit to Sarid's room. None of those helping were willing to help wash the stink off of them though. By the Smiling Lady's luck alone she was able to bring them in for safety from the city guard's patrols. Dramin had refused shelter for them and wanted them left on the street.

Sarid thought back to last night…

Dramin had been preparing the temple for the night, which included collecting the tithe box. He had inadvertently discovered Sarid's ruse to Akara's group and blamed the men for wronging Tymora. Sarid had left a pouch from her belt, which was filled with dried meat and hard cheese, in the tithe box alleging it was the coins needed for Sarid's service. Sarid believed she would get back before evening prep in the temple and be able to sneak the bag out and replace it with the gold from the apothecary. Obviously, she realized, she had not thought this through sufficiently.

Dramin had screamed at her, his face turning purple, as he exclaimed how Sarid would bring Tymora's wrath upon her and she would be dismissed from the clergy when she admitted what she had done. Sarid had fallen to her knees in front of Dramin in the great hall and wept. Her talisman had swung forward on its chain from her robe and glinted in the low light. Sarid wiped tears from her face as a thought came to her. Retrieving her dice from inside her robe, she rolled it in her hand. Dramin was still screaming when Sarid looked up and spoke.

"I roll this dice for luck and fortune, Dramin. You call the face and I will take the group of adventures and leave."

Dramin snorted, "I do not need to make a deal. I have the authority and decided you and the group of miscreants all leave now."

Sarid tried hard not to break into tears again when she heard a voice call out to Dramin. It was Tryston who was standing in her doorway off of the great hall. Dramin's face contorted and he gritted his teeth. She called him again and he turned to her. She motioned to him and he made the slightest of shuffling movements towards her. Tryston said something Sarid could not hear and then turned back into her room and softly closed the door. Dramin turned back and his face caused her to flinch. Dramin's face was lit barely by the evening lamp's candles. His eyes looked sunken and his cheeks severe. Sarid could feel the hate and believed Dramin would set her on fire if he could.

"I will allow the roll" Dramin said through his teeth, "but I choose the face of the dice and you will be allowed to stay. Any of the other five and you will be cut from the fold of Tymora never to be seen or heard from again."

There was a true promise of death from Dramin. It would appear Tryston had over ruled his decision and allowed Sarid some measure of leniency. Sarid knew no matter what happened she would always watch her back around Dramin.

Dramin stalked over to her and snatched the dice from her hand and inspected each face. Her dice was unique and not common issued equipment for a cleric of Tymora. Her father had it made for her when she heard the calling. He explained that it was a tool of luck and skill to roll and predict fortune. It gave her a feeling of connection to her Goddess and her father that helped her emotionally when she first left home.

"Stunning," Dramin said gazing into the dice in his palm.

Sarid looked at him as his face went blank. He peered deep into the die suddenly lost in the stark white color with its ebony and red markings. He suddenly shook his head and growled. Sarid was not sure that he would not jump down on her and bite her throat out. He leaned down to her and grabbed her hand.

"Call it, roll and then be gone" he sneered as he forcefully pressed the dice into her hand. His breath was hot on her face.

Without hesitation, Sarid shook the die in her hand, called "scrolls" and rolled the dice across the floor…

Sarid sighed aloud as she looked across her room as Farit began to stir awake. She would never be safe around Dramin again, she thought.

"Did we win?" Rishk asked, rolling over and yawning. He looked over to Sarid who was sitting cross-legged on her bed. The nightclothes Sarid was wearing was a short black thin gown. It had a deep v in the front that barely covered her breasts. Rishk finally looked up at Sarid's face and saw her head tilted to the side as she stared at him with an amused look.

"Not exactly" she said quietly while she pointed to her eyes and then back at Rishk.

"I don't know why you are whispering. No one can sleep with Farit's snoring anyway," Akara said coming up to his arms from the floor. He was naked except for a sheet that was partially wrapped around him. "This was not comfortable sleeping at all. We couldn't have got something soft to lie on? This floor did not give at all."

"Figures. You could have slept in the street you ungrateful turnshield."

"Sarid, do not let him goad you to his level. You are far too refined to curse at his ill manners." Farit said standing and stretching. "I slept fine by the way."

"Of course you did. You can't hear yourself. I thought I was trying to sleep under the Growling Falls." Akara pulled the sheet he was laying on away and stood up. "You owe me pants, Sarid."

"The best you will get is a robe. You still owe me and the temple and I have got to collect today." Sarid walked over and pulled a robe from the cabinet. She turned and threw it at him. "Put it on and let's go. I am in enough trouble as it is."

Everyone looked back and forth at each other and then back to Sarid. They had been outside and not privy to catastrophe that had been Sarid's deception. She saw their faces and answered their quizzical looks.

"It is some personal drama that I got involved in last night. I need to get my portion and then you will not have to see me anymore."

"That is not such a bad thing, Sarid. You handled yourself well and we are in good shape. Things could be much worse." Farit remarked. "I would be happy to travel with you again."

Sarid smiled and saw Rishk was nodding along with Farit's comments. She turned and looked at Akara and scowled. He was standing in the corner with her cleric's robe open, scratching his butt, and urinating in her chamber pot. Akara turned to look at everyone since it got quiet. Farit was shaking his head.

"Things could be much worse," he said in a mocking tone imitating Farit. His voice returned to his own, "I could have to sit down on the chamber pot to do my business."

Rishk bent at the waist and touched his toes. His stomach growled.

"Can we get breakfast on the way? I never got anything last night and almost dying makes me hungry."

Sarid pulled her Cleric's robes on over her nightclothes. "I am for that. There is a lady two houses down who makes this great dish with eggs, cheese, and olives. We go now and I will get it put on my bill." She finished with her belt, pouches, and looked down and slid her boots on.

When she looked up she saw everyone had moved in a line and was ready to move out of the door behind her. The courtesans were right; a fast way to get a man to move is motivation through his stomach.