Chapter 3

They were both up before the daylight began, making preparations for their journey. Riana had gone out and visited the clothing shop where they had found the leather garments the previous day, waking the poor man well before he was used to getting up. When she told him she was related to Ezrina, whom he had known for a long time he had readily agreed to help her by discounting the articles slightly and further enchanting the materials to reduce the friction they would cause against her skin. He also cast a few enchantments upon a belt and pouches that she picked out that allowed them to reduce the weight of anything the belt supported.

Returning home just after light she began packing as lightly as she could, she stuffed a few of her new silk garments into a large pouch on her right hip. On top of those she put some carefully wrapped rations, and a medium sized water skin. Some other odds and ends went in as well, a compass, a set of utensils, some scraps of parchment, a small vial of ink and a couple of quills, and one-hundred feet of fine, magically-strengthened elven climbing cord; just in case they had to face a climb of some kind. On her other hip she sheathed her short sword and her dagger. Finally she rolled up her thin sleeping pad and blanket and set the roll across her back, securing it with a braided leather rope over her shoulder.

When she exited her chamber, she found Katrina ready and waiting in the main room of their apartment. She was similarly packed, although most of her things were in a back pack slung over her shoulder, and she wore her normal, conservative, mage robes. She smiled at Riana when she saw her, and gave an appreciative whistle, to which Riana blushed profusely.

Riana wore a tight fitting bodice above a breechcloth that hung to well below her knees in front and back and was settled over another leather garment that covered her private parts, but not much else. She had on a pair of sturdy but comfortable leather boots that came up to the middle of her calves, and a leather bracer on each forearm that covered from her wrists to her elbows. The coup de gras was a thick leather choker around her neck and the heavy belt that supported her short sword and dagger in new scabbards, as well as a couple pouches for coin and other odds and ends. All of the items were rich, black leather, soft and supple, with a royal purple beading and stitching that complimented her hair. To complete the ensemble she pulled on one of the more expensive items they had purchased. The fine black material of the elven cape rested nearly weightless on her shoulders, its rich purple interior wrapped around her comfortingly as she fixed the intricately detailed dragon’s head clasp at her neck and let it rest against her leather choker.

“So,” Riana said, trying to take the focus off of her exposed body. “We take the portal to Pandoria, and then speak with the Druids.”

“Right.” Katrina agreed crisply.

“Alright then. Do we have everything we need for a few days? I am sure we can resupply in Cohai before we set out for the Plain of Sorrow.” She was trying not to sound scared as hell despite the fact that neither of them had ever been far from home for any length of time. While they had both been to Pandoria before, they were seeing life through new eyes now, and even their apartment seemed to have taken on a different feeling for them. As she headed for the door Riana looked around their home, her eyes landing on a painting by the dining table, the myriad of figures within its rich golden frame bent to the task of what she had always thought to be the construction of some great monument or structure. Now as she looked at it, she saw new details in the image, the forlorn faces of the workers, the stress lines on their faces, they were bent to no task of joy. Deeper in the background she saw the rows of stone markers for the first time. The figures were erecting a tomb, a grave site for some hero that had fallen.

As she reached for the door, Riana was taken with the sick feeling that she would never see this place again. It was not a feeling of doom, or some disaster, in fact she was quite confident in their success. Something was nagging at the back of her aching mind as if trying to tell her to let it all go. Pushing the door open, she dismissed it as being related to her headache and stepped out into the hallway. Together, Riana and Katrina took their first steps into their new lives. Riana wasn’t sure if they were truly ready, but she knew they had no choice now in the finding out.

Back to The First Key of Kalijor