BNN: You Know What They Say About Curiosity

Nicholas Tamark Jul 23 2000 5:02PM

His body arched on the table as Jordan Cromwell's first breath poured itself into his body. Eyes wide and hands scrabbling in confusion, he couldn't comprehend his surroundings. It took a few minutes before he realized the figures around him were healers, trying to calm him.

A bald, dark-skinned man with a simple robe held Jordan's hand in his, his face a mask of serenity. "Be at ease, lad. You are safe here, and quite alive. Lay back and rest, you've only just returned to us. You are safe, here in Wintermoor." The healer went to work applying bandages, and casting spells of healing where the bandages failed. Jordan drifted back off to sleep.

Some time later, Jordan awoke again. The feeling of emptiness and panic quickly grew again, but he managed to control it, barely. He sat up in the bed, looking about the room. A folded grey robe was on a table next to the bed, and atop that sat his lantern, ever glowing. Relieved, he got to his feet and stretched, making sure no injuries remained. Unfolding the robe and covering himself with it, he started searching through the pockets. The wave of panic rose again as he realized his necklace was not there. Only the sound of the healer's voice behind him stopped him from losing control.

"I thought you might be hungry," said the healer, placing a tray of food down on the table.

"Where are all of my belongings? Is this all I have left?!?" Jordan waved the lantern in front of the man's face. His other hand scratched idly at his neck.

"We have no need of your possessions, sir, and we ask no payment for returning you to this world. What you hold is all that returned with you. Please sit, and eat. Tell me what has happened."

Still fighting with the unreasonable panic, Jordan sat wearily and took a bite of cheese. His hunger awakened, he took a few more bites. Several minutes passed while his body's needs took control of his mental needs. Popping a muffin in his mouth, Jordan began his tale.

"I'd recently been contacted by several parties, all seeking different types of gems, although all for the same purpose. Now I'm a businessman; I don't particularly care why they sought these gems. I only care that their search brought them to me. Apparently I was in the possession of one or more gems that had magical properties, although I had not noticed any such gems. I've spent the last few days taking inventory and gathering all the requested gems. Even after closely inspecting all my gems, I could discern no special traits in any of them. Sure, some were clearer or finer cut, but no two gems are exact. You understand?"

The monk nodded silently, and Jordan washed down his food with wine and continued. "Earlier today I sold my citrines off to a lovely young lady, at a sizeable profit. However, she was unsure if she held the gem she was searching for, and so bought my stock of amber as well. Confident she was now in charge of her destiny, she returned home and I went in search of my other client."

"I was unable to locate either him or his guild, so I returned home. A short time later, I received a visitor. He introduced himself as Smogg Azalin, and claimed to be looking to make a gift of a precious gem for his more precious wife, Reminisence. Besides the fact that I normally care not what my clients do with items they seek, I also did not want to scare this potential buyer away by revealing his reason as a falsehood. It's something I'm used to doing as a businessman, after all. People tend to be less than truthful when they are in search of something of value to them." Jordan realized he was staring off into space, and looked at the monk. "But I digress."

"As is often the case, my visitor inquired about my more unique items. He seemed particularly interested in my lantern, and wished to add that to the purchase of the gem. After repeatedly telling him it was not for sale, he asked to hear the tale of how I acquired it. He summoned his librarian, Annatar, to listen to the tale as well. I told my tale of the lantern, and we started discussing the value of such tales. Smogg claimed to have a complete account of The Ballad of the Mournful Soldier, which made me curious, to say the least."

"Annatar and I started talking about his library, which he claimed was one of the largest in the world. I have to say that my interest in his boast made me less than cautious in dealing with these two men. I agreed to travel with them to see this library, in hopes of finding a new place to do my research.

"We traveled here to Wintermoor, to the Wintermoor Medical Archives. They briefly showed me the medical facility on the first floor, and then escorted me to the upper floor, which housed the library. I must admit it was one of the finer libraries I've seen. It contained books on many subjects, and was easy to browse through. I was inquiring what tomes were located in the backroom, and was told there were tomes of secret knowledge. Smogg, partly joking I assume, asked if I would trade the lantern for entry into the back room, which I of course did not accept. We then heard the downstairs door open, and someone enter the building. Smogg said that his wife had arrived, and went to greet her."

"Annatar and I were discussing books amongst the shelves, when I looked out the window and noted orcs staring at me from a window in a nearby house. I commented on how odd it was to see such a thing, when suddenly I heard many footsteps and words of magic come from behind me." Jordan paused, his face starting to frown in thought. "My memory starts to get blurry here. I was hit with several spells, but fortunately managed to duck behind a bookshelf to shield myself from most of it. I remember trying to reach for my sword...the world going grey as I stared at booted feet, and hooves..."

Jordan shook his head to clear his thoughts. Shrugging, his hand unconsciously touching his neck, he said, "And then I awoke to seeing you."

"Well, I thank you for telling me what occurred." The monk stood and picked up the now empty tray. "Please feel free to stay here as long as you wish."

Jordan stood as well. "I've been too much a burden already. I thank you for restoring me back to health, but I must return home. I need to ... search for something I've lost..."

The monks provided Jordan with warm clothes to deal with the snow outside, and told him where in Wintermoor he could find transport. Jordan again gave his thanks, and walked away among the buildings and snow, fear in his eyes, his hand all too often reaching for his bare neck.

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