Two Are Better Than One Chapter 4
Rained Out in Reza
By Samara Secor
When they woke up, the rising sun was almost completely obscured by dark clouds, as was the rest of the sky. Conch sniffed the air and said, “It smells like we’re in for a storm... A big one. We’d better hurry if we want to get through the Nanza Pass before it turns into a wall of mud.”
Even though they cut their camping time short and ate while they were walking, they had barely come within sight of Reza when the rain started to pour in earnest. “Oh, man... We’re going to be soaked!” Conch exclaimed, wedging himself in between Alicia and her pack in an attempt to stay dry.
“I guess this means we’re going to have to stay in Reza. Or are there any other places this side of the pass that we can find shelter, Conch?” Alicia asked.
“No. That’s the only choice there is,” he said. “People don’t like the idea of living anywhere near a town of thieves, so it’s pretty isolated. I don’t think the downpour will make their lightfingers any heavier, though. Keep an eye on your stuff.”
“Ha! I don’t have anything worth stealing. I was in too much of a hurry to catch up with Alicia and Laticia, here,” Neil replied and, waving off Conch’s warning, he walked right in the gate to Reza.
Not too long afterwards, Neil ducked his head back out and said, “You guys can go ahead and come in right now. We won’t be mugged in the streets, at least. No one here wants to be outside in this mess, either.”
“Yeah, but we can’t just hang out inside the gateway. We need to get inside somewhere, so that we can dry the clothes we have on and put on some clean ones. Uh, Neil? Is something wrong?” Laticia asked.
“No, not really,” Neil looked back over his shoulder and squinted into the driving rain. “It looks like there’s some kind of inn or tavern at the end of the main plaza. They might have some place in there that you could use, but every thief in town is probably sitting down in the common room right now, packing away a pint of ale. Do you feel like risking it?”
“Well, Conch can watch over our things while we change,” Laticia said. “Right?”
“Yeah, sure,” Conch answered. “Just be sure to carve me out a nice spot by the fire. I can’t change fur like you guys change clothes. I’ll just have to dry out the natural way.”
They crossed the plaza as quickly as they could, slowing only to dodge puddles. Then, Neil pushed open the door, and they entered.
The moment that they were inside, they were met with dozens of voices singing along with a tune that a young man with black hair was playing on a sitar.
Of a time and land
Oh, so far away.
Where the grass is green as emeralds fair,
And birds are dancing through the air as they sing melodies.
Me.. lo.. dies.
Where the mountain tops are white with snow,
Breathtaking views where’er you go... A land of majesty.
Ma.. je.. sty.
I long to part the veils of time
And look at what we’ve left behind.
The past to which none return.
Can it be this world is memory
Relegated to a history
We glimpse from great distance?
Is.. that so?
No way... No way...
Can we find a path from where we are?
Who can say?
So, we must continue seeking.
Let’s change the path we’re taking.
Open the door,
And begin the journey of our lives.
Laticia was stunned to hear such a lively song coming from these people. She had envisioned that they’d all be shifty-eyed, sour looking individuals. ‘Why, these guys could fit right into the festival at Pao, and no one would think twice about them being there. That’s probably the idea. Then, no one would notice when they struck. I never heard that they had any musicians, though,’ she thought.
She didn’t even realize that she was staring at the musician until, when he had finished playing, he looked up and flashed her a dazzling smile. He motioned to the bartender for a drink and, upon recieving it, he slung his sitar over his shoulder, stood, and walked over to them.
“Hey, you three look like drowned rats,” he took a sip from the mug and asked, “So, what brings you guys out here on such a cold, wet morning? Don’t answer if I’m being too nosy. It’s just that I didn’t think that anyone from the Prairie would want to come within ten miles of this place. At least, that’s the impression that Tyrian’s been giving me.”
“You... know Tyrian?” Alicia asked, doubt evident on her face. “You are talking about the swordsmaster, right?”
“Is there any other? Hey, what’s the matter? Don’t you think that a dagger wielding punk like me can associate with a warrior turned merchant? That’s okay. I wouldn’t believe me, either,” his expression was hidden as he raised the mug to his lips again. “I met him when I tried to use the five-fingered discount on some of his trading goods. the man has eyes like a hawk... You can’t get anything by him. After beating the tar out of me, he let me go with a promise not to use that discount to take anything that my life didn’t depend on. Then, he shoved this sitar into my hands and told me to learn to play well enough to where I would never have to depend on that kind of skill.”
“If you’ve come clean, then why are you hanging around here?” Neil asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Two reasons. One, I need to eat, and staying in one place is kind of boring. Every once in a while, I have to come back here just for variety’s sake,” he paused to drain the last of his drink and said, “Secondly, there’s a rule that the Thieves’ Guild can’t steal from its own members. As long as I keep my membership current, I can be sure that my things will still be there when I wake up in the morning.”
“Hey, Arvad! Would you tell your friends to stop making a puddle on my floor?” the barkeep yelled irritably.
“Sure...” Arvad shrugged and turned to them. “You guys can change out of those things in my room. Just follow me.”
“Wow, this is some room that he’s got here. There must be at least twenty different kinds of knives in that case! Look at them, Alicia! Just look at them!” Laticia exclaimed, kneeling to get a closer look at one on the bottom row.
“And I thought that I was the weapon freak...” Alicia rolled her eyes. “Come on, Laticia. You’ve never showed much of an interest in any other weapon besides a bow. You’re just fascinated with the guy they belong to, that’s all.”
“I am not,” Laticia felt her cheeks growing hot.
“Sure, you’re not,” Alicia muttered under her breath and said, “We’d better hurry before they decide to check up on us.”
“Eeep!” Laticia went into a flurry of motion and began changing as fast as she could.
“What’s it like out in the Prairie? I’ve never been there, mainly because of my former occupation,” Arvad said.
“Well, for one thing, the land’s mostly flat. The only mountains we have are around the border. Of course, there’s grass everywhere and some springs and pools. Our town doesn’t stay in one fixed spot all the time, so we live in tents,” Neil replied.
“Whew, you guys have even less of a permenant home than I do... If you can call that room in the back of the Thieves’ Guild a home. But, I suppose it does serve its purpose,” Arvad commented. “So, what made you decide to ditch the rolling green fields and come out here? Certainly not to see Reza. This place is hardly a cultural highlight even with my playing.”
“I didn’t really think about leaving. It was Laticia,” Neil said.
“Laticia... Which one is she?”
“The one with the bow and arrows. She’s the best shot in our entire tribe.”
“Ah... And why did she want to leave?”
“She wants to go and study to become a magician in Vane.”
“Vane,” Arvad screwed up his face as if trying to remember something and gave up. “I’ve never been there, either, but I’ve heard that they’re pretty selective. She might have a hard time getting in.”
“Well, the best things in life are always worth working for, aren’t they?” Alicia asked.
“Hey, Alicia. I didn’t see you standing there,” Neil said. “Arvad and I were just having a little chat here.”
“A little chat, huh? You’re just as much of a blabbermouth as Conch is,” Alicia said, sitting down next to Neil.
“Uh... Where’s Laticia?” Neil asked.
“She’s still in Arvad’s room.... eyeing those knives he has on display. Why do you have so many, anyway?” Alicia asked Arvad.
“They’re not just for close combat. They make good projectile weapons, too. I’ve had an encounter with a monster or two, and some of those you don’t want to come close enough to you for hand-to-hand fighting, or they’ll rip you apart. Well, I’d better go check on her and make sure that she hasn’t touched any of them. A couple of them are poisonous,” Arvad, seeing the look on Alicia and Neil’s faces added, “It’s not fatal, and I have the antidote if she has cut herself on one. So, you don’t have to worry.”
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