The Traveler By Lady Faelyn Rose Chapter Two Bronson emerged from the moongate only to come face to snout with a huge battle scarred White Wyrm. The creature’s nostrils vacuumed over man and mare for a few seconds before Nox snorted out a small fireball of warning. The wyrm snaked his head away and resumed crunching a half eaten mongbat. It rock slowly back and forth making a satisfied rumbling purr as it chewed the fuzzy snack. Bronson looked around, finding himself in the middle of a jungle. It appeared to be mid day. He guessed they were somewhere in the southern hemisphere of Trammel. The air was heavy and humid. Ferns and palm trees surrounded the clearing he stood in. The shrill voices of many tropical birds filtered through the forest. A gorilla grunted as it wandered nearby in the underbrush. The mangled bodies of giant serpents and alligators littered the ground in every direction. Several feet away Seamus was bending over a newly unearth metal chest, cleaning the mud off of the rusty lock with the cuff of his sleeve. As Bronson dismounted he stepped into a red oozing pile of slime which had recently been a Blood Elemental. He surveyed the area again. This time he counted the remains of two more Blood Elementals and a green glowing glob which was most likely a Poison Elemental corpse. “Three Bloods and a Poison.” Bronson said to himself. The strange words his brother had spoken at the pub became clear to him now. These monsters had been the guardian spawn of a Level Five treasure chest. He heard the rattle and click as Seamus successfully picked the treasure chest’s lock. “Are you doing this treasure map alone?” Bronson asked. He reached down into the Blood Elemental corpse and carefully pulled a parchment scroll out of the remains. “I’m not alone, lad.” Seamus said as he walk twenty paces away from the chest. “Og is with me!” At the sound of his name the Wyrm roared and started to lumber after his master. “ALL STAY!!” Seamus bellowed. The wyrm stopped and began to rock back and forth again. His black beady reptilian eyes watched Seamus’ every move. “Amanda Rose was hunting with me all afternoon.” Seamus said referring to his wife. “Her pets and my wyrm made short work of the first round of spawn. But my lady has returned to Mountain View. Something about potted plants.” “Mountain View?” Bronson asked “Aye, our new house near Luna.” He answered, swatting at a mosquito. Seamus stood a safe distance from the treasure chest and cast the spell of Telekinesis on it. The spell would destroy any deadly traps which might protect the treasure. “Ort Por Ylem” A mighty explosion erupted from beneath the lid of the treasure chest. The trap would have easily killed Seamus had he been standing any closer. “I am sure you had a very good reason for being so late.” He said striding back to the chest. The memory of a lovely face smiling across a clearing came to Bronson’s mind. “Aye, the best possible reason.” he answered. “A lady in distress.” Bronson heard Seamus chuckle as he opened the still smoldering lid of the chest. He began to carefully examine the treasure inside. “ALL HIDE NOW!!” Seamus suddenly commanded. He quickly cast the spell of Invisibility upon himself. “An Lor Xen.” Bronson bristled at the barked order. “I fear you are spending too much time in the company of wyrms. Your manner of speaking is…” Bronson never finished. With a blinding blast of energy a Poison Elemental materialize and moved with lightning speed towards him. The green glowing tornado shrieked with rage as it moved. He scarcely had time to react when the monster struck him hard, sending immobilizing pain through his body. Bronson could hear his Nightmare and the Wyrm attacking the Poison Elemental as his lungs stopped working and he started to black out. From somewhere far away he heard his brother’s voice casting a spell to cure the poison coursing through his body. “An Nox!!” Like a drowning victim breaking the surface of the water, the dying warrior could suddenly breathe. He gulped in air as his vision cleared. “In Vas Mani” Seamus’ voice sounded nearby. Bronson felt the warm comforting tingle of a Greater Heal spell being cast upon him. It felt like floating in warm water. He became fully aware of the fact that he was sitting in the mud beside a very large fern. Seamus was standing over him. He reached down and grabbed Bronson’s forearm and pulled him to his feet. A small round bottle full of orange liquid was pressed into his hand. “Never go on a hunt without a good supply of Cure potions!!” Seamus ordered. He pulled Bronson’s hood back up over his head and strode away towards the chest. Bronson stood there like a chastised school boy. He felt foolish for letting himself be caught off guard. He always carried cure potions with him. Only a novice would make such a mistake. “I found another map!” he said lamely holding up the parchment he had retrieved from the Blood Elemental corpse. “Oh?” Seamus turned and marched back. He took the map out of Bronson’s hand and unrolled it immediately. “HAH!! It’s right on this island!!” he exclaimed with a grin. “We will dig it up as soon as we finish this one!” Seamus made his way back to the treasure chest tucking the new map into his oversized sleeve. He started to pull loot out of the chest. He tossed the items he deemed useless onto the ground. The quality items he sorted and placed in two leather bags. “ALL HIDE NOW!!” Seamus commanded again. “An Lor Xen!!” was Bronson’s reply this time. The Lich Lord gave a demented laugh as it cast a flaming spell over Nox. She resisted the magical energy, taking little damage. Her hooves lashed out hitting the Lich and causing him to double over in pain. An arrow from Bronson’s undead slayer pierced the Lich’s chest as he started to straighten up. The White Wyrm grabbed the decaying Lich Lord’s arm between his teeth and tore it off. The Lich made one last attempt to fight with his remaining arm before being crushed under the gigantic foot of the wyrm. An Elder Gazer appeared a second later. It hissed a warning before sending a bolt of lightning crashing into Nox. The mare staggered for a second. Then she roared with rage. “OG KILL!!” Seamus commanded. The White Wyrm breathed intense flame over the attacking foe. But the Elder Gazer was focused on Nox. It floated lazily above the ground, tentacles waving. Again it cast a powerful spell at the nightmare. The flames did more damage to her as she charged forward kicking and breathing fire balls in return. Bronson stayed beside the mare, healing her wounds as she fought. With a powerful swipe of his claw, Og knocked the weaken gazer into the mud. Both mare and wyrm then proceeded to stomp the life out of the monster. For a moment the jungle clearing was silent as a tomb. Then Nox began to roar for her well earned reward. Bronson tossed a cut of raw meat to his mare and applied another bandage. The bodies of dead monsters were piled around the treasure chest. The top of Seamus’ golden helmet could be seen moving behind the twisted remains of a daemon. Seamus grunted as he pushed the limp wing of the dead daemon out of his way. “Well lad, that’s the last of it.” he said dragging his heavy bags of loot a few feet away from the chest. “Here’s a little something for you.” He tossed a fat bag of gold which landed in the mud at Bronson’s feet. Bronson picked up the bag, feeling its weight. “A little something? Feels like a king’s ransom to me!” he laughed. He wiped the sweat and mud from his forehead. Every muscle in his body ached and he was tired enough to sleep standing up. But he could not remember having had a more exciting day. Not to mention a more profitable one. Seamus pulled a timepiece out of his sleeve and checked it. “It’s two in the morning, Malas time. My lady awaits me.” “Vas Rel Por” Seamus cast a moongate. “ALL FOLLOW ME!!” he bellowed. The wyrm roared as it ambled after him through the blue sphere. Seamus had opened a moongate to the Luna stables. They emerged on the grassy court yard between the stable and the main building of the town. Towering sandstone walls glowed in the torchlight and the air was filled with the aroma of food cooking. Even at this late hour tradesmen hurried past. The brothers saw that their pets were stabled for the night before walking up the wide sandstone steps to the bank. They deposited their treasure loot into their bank boxes. Bronson noticed that Seamus left one of the loot bags filled with weapons and armor on the floor in the center of the bank. At his questioning look, Seamus replied. “I leave a few things for those just starting out. Many have need of them but not the gold to spend.” “It’s nothing to fuss about.” He said gruffly at his brother’s teasing smile. Bronson laughed “I won’t tell a soul that you have a soft heart.” “I would appreciate it.” Seamus grinned. “I have a reputation to maintain after all!” They laughed together for a moment longer and then Seamus said. “Well I’m off to a warm bed. You’re welcome to stay the night a Mountain View or return to the pub, whatever you wish.” Bronson looked around at the bank of Luna and the surrounding shops. “Perhaps tomorrow night, Seamus. I think I shall stay the night here at the Inn and explore the city in the morning.” “Suit yourself, lad. Come out to the house when you’ve had your fill of vendors and pretty maids.” Seamus grinned. “Mountain View is but a short walk to the north and Amanda is planning a meal to welcome you.” He clapped Bronson on the back. “Good to have you here, brother.” Seamus cast a moongate and vanished into it. Bronson patted his very full money pouch and went in search of the Inn Keeper. Bronson woke to the smell of fresh baked bread. He lay with his eyes closed relaxing in the softest bed he had ever slept in. Last night he had found the Inn keeper and the Inn on the second floor of the Luna bank building. He had rented himself the finest room available. Bronson had ordered a bath and a late supper to be brought up to his newly acquired room. Then he had given his clothes to a giggling chamber maid to be cleaned and mended. His new found wealth from yesterday’s treasure hunt made him feel like Lord Blackthorn himself! “This is turning out to be a very good journey.” he thought, smiling. Opening one eye Bronson looked at the clock on the wall. “Ten o’clock!!” He rolled out of bed with a thud. He had never slept so late before. The day was wasting away while he lay in bed! Bronson quickly dressed and packed up his belonging. As he was leaving the Inn he stopped to look upon the Shrine of Wisdom. He knew this was the shrine where young Paladins took their vows. It was a place filled with light and peace. Just as Umbra was fill with darkeness, death and despair. He walked along the wide balcony on the top floor looking out over the beautiful city. The sandstone buildings gleamed in the sunlight. A gentle breeze blew the white banners which proclaimed this to be the Holy City of Paladins. Scholars and men of Healing dressed in pure white robes were exchanging ideas in the shade of ancient pillars. Emerald green grass sloped down to meet the golden cobble stones which formed a roadway. Deer and skittering hoppers grazed on the lush lawn. This seemed to Bronson like paradise. He had the sudden desire to stay and make a new life as his older brother had done. Seamus had married Amanda Rose here. He had settled into a happy prosperous life in the beautiful land of Luna. Again a memory of his mysterious lady in blue came to mind. Bronson mentally shook himself. This place was too enticing. Perhaps he should have gone back to the pub last night, after all. He wandered down the narrow stairs to the main hall. The Provisoner, Blacksmith, Tailor, Bakery, Carpenter and Mage shops were all housed in this structure at the center of town. Beyond the inner gates there were dozens of houses and privately owned vendors shops lining the cobblestone streets. Bronson stopped at the bakery and bought a loaf of bread to break his fast. As he chewed the warm buttery crust he walked down the main steps eager to explore the city of Luna. The young woman peered into the empty flour barrel and sighed. “How much food are you planning to make?” she asked her cousin, Amanda Rose. Every flat surface in the huge kitchen was covered with bowls and platters of food. “Enough to feed my hungry brother-in-law. I want to make him feel at home.” Amanda answered as she let another blob of cookie dough drop onto the pan. She wiped her hands on her apron and turned to take her fourth batch of cookies out of the oven. “It is always better to make too much food than too little I have found.” The two women looked very much alike. Both were fair of face with hair the color of sunshine. Amanda Rose was a few years older than her cousin, Jeanne Rose. But the two were as close as sisters. “This brother….” “Bronson.” Amanda corrected. “Aye, this Bronson must be as big as an Ogre Lord to require so much food!” Jeanne Rose said as she picked up a cookie and nibbled on it. “Please don’t eat those!” Amanda pleaded. She tried to shoo Jeanne away with a wave of her hand. “They are for tonight!” “Oh no!” Jeanne teased. She snatched up another cookie and danced out of Amanda’s reach. “I have taken two cookies and that only leaves 4998 cookies for the enormous brother to eat!” Amanda started to laugh at the absurd conversation. She shook her head and went back to preparing the cookie dough for baking. “I have not seen Bronson since he was little more than a child.” Amanda said. “Seamus says he has grown...” “And grown and grown and grown, apparently!” Jeanne finished with an impish grin. She took off her apron and started to wash her hands in the water basin. Amanda laughed again. “Be serious for a moment. Do you really think that I am making too much food?” “Not at all.” Jeanne reassured her. “In fact I believe that I will go out and slay a Swamp Dragon just to be sure the poor starving man is properly fed!” Amanda smiled as she watched Jeanne leave the kitchen. Her cousin continued to walk through the dining room and down the stairs leading to the first floor of the large house. “Where are you going?!” Amanda called after her. “To slay a Swamp Dragon!” Jeanne answered from the bottom of the stairs. “Or perhaps a Drake, the meat has more flavor.” Amanda hurried out of the kitchen and down the stairs into the entrance hall. “Jeanne Rose! Wait!” Jeanne stood at the front door in her favorite blue riding gown. She put on her blue feathered hat and with dramatic flair checked the tautness of the string on her heavy crossbow. She laughed at the worried look on Amanda’s face and said. “I’m just going into Luna to get more flour. I shall be right back.” It took nearly two hours for Bronson to make his way around the city of Luna. The road formed a huge rectangle around the main city hall. He had stopped and inspected the wares of most of the vendors and bought a few items as gifts for his family. The road eventually brought him back to where he had started, the entrance closest to the Luna stable. Bronson decided to check on Nox before heading out to his brother’s house. But as he rounded the corner inside the gate he saw Seamus standing near the stable talking to a group of tamers. The men he spoke to were heavily armored and most were riding nightmares. A line of dragons and wyrms stood close by and Bronson assumed the tamers were on their way to a hunt. As he approached the stable one of the tamers cast a moongate. It glowed with a sinister red color, signaling that it would take them to somewhere in Felucca. The tamers and Seamus all laughed loudly together before one by one they called to their pets to follow them through the red moongate. Seamus stood with his back to Bronson until the moongate closed. Then he turned and started to walk in his brother’s direction. Lost in thought, Seamus did not see Bronson at first. As Bronson observed his brother he saw a look of fevered excitement in Seamus’ eyes that he knew all too well. Sure as there were bulls in Delucia this day would end with him running through some dark, dank and dangerous place wearing only a grey robe to protect him. Bronson grinned. Seamus saw Bronson then and quicken his stride. He called out loudly. “HAIL BROTHER!!” and put his arm around Bronson’s shoulders pulling him a few steps towards the wall of the stable. Away from the prying eyes and ears of those passing by. He looked once over his shoulder and then said in a low voice. “Your timing couldn’t be better, lad. My spies tell me that there is a very foul, menacing and profitable evil brewing in the depths of the dungeon of Fire! FELUCCA! Lad, Felucca no less.” Bronson started to take a mental inventory of everything he carried. Sorting his belongings in his mind, deciding what items he could afford to lose without regret. Suddenly he remembered that Amanda was expecting them. “What about the visit with your wife?” he asked. He could tell by the way the excitement in Seamus’s eyes dim for a second that his brother had forgotten about any prior commitments. “Hmmm.” He said. Bronson could see the wheels turning inside his brother’s head. “Well, I suppose since you are the honored guest it should be your decision how we spend the rest of the day.” Seamus finally answered. “I will have to abide by that decision, of course, out of courtesy for you.” He continued with sly smile. “As my guest.” “Now, here are your choices, brother. One. We go to the house and spend the day drinking tea, eating cookies and helping the ladies decide the exact placement of numerous potted plants. OR! Two. We ride out with our brothers in arms to defend this land from the dark forces of evil and make a tidy profit if we succeed!” Bronson laughed. “So what’s it to be?” Seamus asked. “Tea and potted plants?” He made a face as if he had just bitten into an over ripe lemon. “Or fame, glory and GOLD!!” He flashed his brother a smile and wiggled his eyebrows up and down. “Just let me get a less valuable bow.” Bronson said with a grin.